5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Before we commence the business of the day, I claim the indulgence of the House to offer my congratulations to the right honorable the Prime Minister for the honour which he has received, and likewise to the AttorneyGeneral, Sir William Irvine, for the title that has been conferred on him..
– I am much obliged to the honorable member for his congratulations. I have joined his union now.
– I wish to express my appreciation of the right honorable member’s kindly reference to me.
– Will the right honorable the Prime Ministersee that, if the Fleet is to be sent to New Zealand, or any other part of the world, the men shall have a chance of voting first under the absentee provisions of the Electoral Act?
– I shall strain a point, if possible, in order that they may vote, because I have great hope that they will vote “Liberal.”
– Speaking at Tarnworth on Monday night, the Prime Minister is reported in the Age, and in the Argus, to have said -
What is the crime of the Governor-General? All he has done is to send us back to the centre to kickoff again.
To what game was the Prime Minister referring? Under our rules the ball is not kicked from the centre. The most popular game played in Australia is the game played under Australian rules, and in that game the centre umpires invariably give reasons for their decisions.
– The honorable member is referring to the Victorian Association’s football; the reference of the Prime Minister was to Rugby football.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the Union Steamship Company, or from Messrs. Huddart, Parker and Company, any application for permission to raise freights under the terms of their contract with the Commonwealth, and, if so, will he confer with the representatives of Tasmania before making a reply?
– No application has been made.
– I have received from Bullfinch, in Western Australia, a telegram to the effect that the enrolment of a large number of persons whose names have been on the roll since the establishment of that gold-field, have been objected to. Will the Minister of Home Affairs inquire who lodged the objections against the enrolment of these bond fide qualified electors, and take steps to prevent the lodging of frivolous objections in future ?
– I shall look into the matter, and if the honorable member will give me any fuller particulars that he may have, the statements made will be fully inquired into.
– I have given all the information in my possession.
– The honorable member for Herbert stated recently that a Dr. Webster had been dismissed by the present Government, and a Dr. Irvine, supposed to be a friend of the Government, appointed in his place. I ask the Minister of Home Affairs if an inquiry has been made into this statement, and, if so, with what result?
– The statement has been inquired into, and has been found to bristle with inaccuracies. Dr. Irvine was appointed, not by this Government, but by the Fisher Administration on the 1st July, 1912.
– When is it the intention of the Government to bring into operation the award increasing the wages of the linesmen in the Construction Branch ?
– As soon as provision is made. I apprehend that the award is in operation now.
– The men have not yet been paid the higher rate.
– They will be.
Colonel RYRIE. - I ask the PostmasterGeneral why the officials who are employed by the travelling post-office in the sorting of mails on trains are no longer supplied with uniforms and overcoats, as was formerly the practice ?
– I am surprised that any change has been made, and will give instructions to have the uniforms and overcoats supplied again. Whatever has been done has been done without authority from me.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral cause an investigation to be made into the condition of the mechanics’ room at the General Post
Office, Melbourne? I have been informed that the room is badly lighted, overcrowded, and insanitary.
– If the honorable gentleman will give me a pair for half-an-hour, I shall be pleased to go with him to the General Post Office to investigate matters.
– In the report of speeches made by the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, the word “ assassin “ is used. I wish to know whether that is a term of endearment between privy councillors ?
– I should like to reply that I quoted the word ; I did not use it.
– The question is not in order, and to answer it would not be in order.
The following papers were presented : -
Northern Territory Railways and Ports -
Reports of the Royal Commission on.
Ordered to be printed.
Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1913-14- Dated 17th June, 1914.
Defence Act - Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulation Amended (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914, No. 02.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act - Regulation Amended (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914, No. 74.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Nuriootpa, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Public Service Act -
Appointments of -
Officers in Charge, Class E, Professional Division, at Wireless Telegraph Stations, viz. : -
A. M. Howlett, Esperance.
H. F. Coffey, Mount Gambier.
W. G. Clarke, Townsville.
S. Trim, Wyndham.
H. W. King, Broome.
J. J. Howe, Cooktown.
J. M. Martin, Darwin.
– Will the Royal Commissioner who has been appointed to inquire into the operations of the Meat
Trust cause a verbatim report of the evidence given before him to be taken, and will this report be available to members?
– Before the Royal Commission started taking evidence arrangements were made for complete shorthand notes to be taken of question and answer in every place where the Commission sits.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence make inquiry into the truth of the statement that a secret document has been issued from the Defence Department to employers of labour in the engineering trade in Sydney ; that, in connexion therewith, the whole life of an applicant for employment is inquired into, and that, therefore, such a man is practically blacklisted, and has no right or opportunity to reply ? If this be so, will the Minister see that such procedure in connexion with the Naval Dockyard in Sydney is abolished?
– I know nothing of this practice. I can only say that if such a document exists it could not possibly long remain secret under the circumstances of its alleged issue. However, I shall have inquiry made at once to see what justification there is for the statement.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, at Parramatta, he said that nine out of the ten charges being made against the Government’s administration of the electoral machinery are unfounded, and if so, will he tell us what part of them is true - the other tenth?
– I do not know of any of the charges that are time. With my usual moderation I understated the matter.
– Did the Prime Minister, at Parramatta, on Saturday night, say that it will require the utmost vigilance on the part of the Liberals to see that no fraud occurs at the forthcoming election ? The honorable gentleman is so reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 22nd instant, and I should like to know whether he, with his “usual moderation,” understated the matter in this connexion?
– I do not know what answer to give to such a foolish question.
– I ask the Prime Minister what he meant by his statement at Parramatta last Saturday night, that it . would require the utmost vigilance on the part of the Liberals to prevent fraud ?
– The honorable member has just asked that question.
– I had better answer it. I meant that the Act was so faulty that there were plenty of loopholes for fraud. I said, moreover, that the Act, good and bad, faulty and good, was the result of the handiwork of our predecessors, and that we had not been permitted to alter it.
– You said more than that.
– That was the statement I made.
– Will the Postmaster-General cancel the contract with the Union Steam-ship Company and the Huddart Parker Company if, on their steamers between the mainland and Tasmania, they raise fares and freights, which are already double what the people ought to pay?
– The steam-ship companies have contracted with the Department not to raise fares or freights without the consent of the PostmasterGeneral. If they do raise fares and freights the contract may be cancelled, or we may go to law, and compel them to restrict the charges.
– Has any agreement been arrived at with the Union Cool Storage Company of London, concerning the erection and control of freezing works at Darwin, and if so, when is it proposed to lay the agreement on the table of the House ?
– An agreement has been arrived at, and I have the engrossment of it in my possession. As soon as I have had time to again go carefully through the text, the agreement’ will be finalized and, when signed, laid on the table of the House. This agreement is the result of about five months’ negotiations.
– Can the Minister of External Affairs tell us whether the report is correct that the Union Cool Storage Company of London have purchased 10,000,000 acres in the Northern Territory?
– The Union Cool Storage Company, in which Vesty Brothers are the principal shareholders, is a very extensive British company, and, within the last twelve months, they or Vesty Brothers have purchased fairly large leaseholds in the Territory, amongst these being Wave Hill, in the Victoria River country.
– Purchased or leased?
– They have purchased the leases; there is no freehold. It is really the unexpired term of certain leases that has been acquired by the English company, and, speaking from memory, I think they now have about 14,000 square miles, and, perhaps, about 2,000 square miles of permit country; but the permits are determinable “on short notice.
– Can the Minister of External Affairs give the House any information regarding the mural decorations of the Commonwealth Offices, Australia House, London ?
– I have some further particulars furnished by the architect, 80 that I can amplify what I said in reply to the honorable member last week. It is the desire that timber, marble, and other products of the various Australian States shall be represented in the building as much as possible. The architects examined the various timbers available, and we caused an inquiry to be made as to the amount of seasoned timber of the class required to be obtained in the various States. I think there was trouble about getting a sufficient quantity of sea- . soned timber, but we ultimately got over that by making an arrangement with the Government seasoning works at Newport to do the seasoning. This was after careful examination and testing both here and in the Old Country. The result is that, approximately, 530,000 lineal feet of flooring timber and 117,000 superficial feet of joinery timber will be sent. It is proposed to use on the ground-floor New South Wales tallowwood timber; on the first, fifth, and sixth floors the yellow stringybark of Victoria; on the second floor, hooppine from Queensland; on the ground floor, jarrah from Western Australia; and for the entresol, third and fourth floors, the stringybark of Tasmania. I have also particulars of the various quantities that have already been shipped; but I pass on to mention that we are availing ourselves of what excellent marble we have here for the purposes of Australia House. The varieties and quantities of marble asked for were as follows: - Buchan marble, Victoria, 8,000 cubic feet; Kapunda marble, South Australia, 2,440 cubic feet; dark Caleula marble, New South Wales, 671 cubic feet; and white Angaston, South Australia, 2,181 cubic feet. An additional small quantity has been, or is being, sent Home, but it is not necessary to mention the particulars. It will be seen that at Australia House there will be a good representation of what Australia can produce in these directions.
– Is it true, as stated in the newspapers this morning, that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank–
– Questions founded on newspaper statements are not in order.
– Then I ask whether it is true that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank is underwriting mining debentures for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company?
– I noticed something about the matter in the newspapers, but I have no knowledge whatever of any such transaction. I have communicated with the Governor of the bank in order to ascertain if there is any accuracy in the statement.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs have the evidence given before the Royal Commission to inquire into the Beef Trust printed and circulated ?
– I presume that the evidence will be reported and printed - at any rate that is the intention - and that it will be made available in the usual way.
– Has the Minister taken any action in connexion with the lymph supply, and the examinatiou of boatmen, which I mentioned the other day?
– I propose referring to the matter later on during the debate on the Supply motion.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider the advisability of increasing the staff employed in the erection of telephone lines, because a great number of applications for telephone connexions are not satisfied, and will not be satisfied for a considerable time unless the staff is increased?
– The Postal Department has been doing what the honorable member suggests for some time past, but it is very difficult to get trained men for this work. There is plenty of work, if we could only get trained men to do it.
Killing of Natives
– Has the Minister of External Affairs received any official information in regard to a reported engagement in Papua, in which a number of natives were shot?
– This morning I received a telegram from Papua to the following effect: - Some time ago a Samoan teacher of the London Mission at Aird Hill, in the Kikori district, was threatened and attacked by natives, and subsequently two men named Williams, when proceeding past the Aird Hill village in a boat, were threatened, and had spears thrown at them. A patrol officer named Herbert, accompanied by sixteen native police, was sent up at night to Aird Hill to effect an arrest. The party having landed and surrounded the dubu, or big native house, the patrol officer and four of the native police entered, and the natives of the village stampeded to the end of the dubu. The police, on approaching the natives, were opposed by five or six natives with heavy spears, and by a native with a club, who rushed and attacked Herbert. A spear was thrown, and passed through Herbert’s clothing, while a police constable was also struck. On the spears being thrown, Herbert ordered his police to fire, and he himself fired two shots with his revolver over the heads of the natives. The constable also fired. I am quoting the words in the telegram from memory. I understand that the police who were left outside then commenced firing in the dark contrary to orders, and it is deplorable to relate that ten natives were killed.
– The same old story.
– The honorable member must not, as, indeed, he would not, judge too rashly. An inquiry into the circumstances has been begun. The Commissioner of Native Affairs has gone up for the purpose, and I have wired to Papua asking that the inquiry should be most exhaustive, and drawing attention to certain points which struck me on reading the telegram. I may mention that four natives were arrested, and stated that a quantity of arms had been collected, as they intended an attack for the purpose of securing blood for the christening of three boats. The native ceremony of christening boats with human blood has led to a great deal of the deplorable bloodshed that in recent years, at all events, has occurred in parts of Papua.
Travelling of Cadets
– On the 11th June last the honorable member for Ballarat asked the following question : -
Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence cause inquiries to be made concerning facts which are causing a good dealof indignation in some of the country districts? Cadets living in Gordon and Egerton, in the Ballarat Division, are required to walk 14 miles tofire five shots, when there is no need for them to walk a mile. Will the Minister see if this can be prevented?
I have received the following reply: -
The District Military Commandant, to whom this matter was referred, states that the Brigade Major reports that, owing to the Gordon rifle range being in a dangerous condition, it was decided to carry out the musketry course for the current year at Egerton, 4 miles distant from Gordon. Of the twenty-seven who fired, twenty-one proceeded by bicycle or vehicle, and the remaining six walked with the Staff Sergeant-Major to the range and return. Gordon range has since been repaired, and there is now no necessity to utilize the Egerton range.
Alleged Importation of Rabbits
– Is it a fact that a shipment of live rabbits has been taken to Port Darwin at the instance of the Administrator of the Northern Territory? If so, what is the object of it? Does not the Minister of External Affairs realize that the escape of a pair of these rabbits would soon render the Northern Territory a retired settlement?
– I have not heard of the matter before, and I do not think it is likely.
– They were on the Montana, which was due to arrive on the 9th June.
– I know nothing of it, but I shall be very glad to make inquiries.
– In view of the fact that, under our fiscal policy, encouragement in the shape of bonuses is granted for the production of oil in the Commonwealth, will the Minister of Trade and Customs consider the desirability of extending some consideration in the way of a bonus to the production of eucalyptus oil ?
– I shall be glad to look into the matter, and make inquiries.
Teesdale Smith Contract
– Has the Teesdale Smith contract on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway been completed? If not, will the Honorary Minister inform the House of the date on which it is likely to be completed, and what penalties have been imposed; also whether any delay to the construction of the line has been caused by the non-completion of the contract?
– The question is so much in the nature of a four-volume novel that I would be glad if the honorable member would place it on the noticepaper. However, I can assure the honorable member that I am remitting no penalties on this contract.
– The honorable m ember for Ballarat has handed me a notice that it is his intention to move the adjournment of the House to call attention to a matter of urgent public importance, namely, the administration of the Electoral Act in connexion with the preparation of rolls. Is the honorable member supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- In the Argus of yesterday morning the Prime Minister is reported to have said -
Almost every day we are listening to charges of manipulating the rolls, and gerrymandering the elections. There is not a tittle of truth in any of the statements they are making.
I propose to give some facts. I will give the Prime Minister the names and addresses of individuals who have been objected to within the last week or two, and I will leave it to him to say whether fair play has been meted out to those electors. Inthe Ballan subdivision of Ballarat, on the last Federal roll, printed in October, 1913, there were 1,946 names. Of these, 259 have already been struck off, and, in addition, 165 names have been handed to the Electoral Registrar for removal. Included in this list of 165 are the names of many Labour supporters who are still residing in the subdivision. This represents 22 per cent. of the total enrolment.
– Are they all Labour supporters ?
– What is the object of mentioning that?
– Because I believe that the rolls are being gerrymandered.
– Give us some proof.
– I shall. Here is a list, carefully prepared, of fourteen cases which are among the most flagrant -
John Bowman. - Lives with his mother, about 6 miles from Ballan. Has not Been out of the district for months. Constable Weppner, who objected to his being on the roll, served him with a summons for allowing his horse to go on the footpath on 7th June, yet he has certified that Bowman does not live in Ballan subdivision, and has not so resided for one month prior to the 16th of June.
Bartholomew Brown. - Lives with his brotherinlaw, about 4 miles from Ballan,andhas done so for the past twelve months.
Josephine Cantwell. - Lives with parents, 3 miles from Ballan. Was born in the district, and has never left it, except for abort holidays.
I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the following statement) -
John Carberry. -Has lived in subdivision for past twenty years. Is a well-known man, and has not left locality in past three months for more than a couple of days.
When the State rolls were being compiled and objections lodged, the police officer, Constable Weppner, lodged an objection against Carberry’s name being placed on the roll. Mr. Molloy, the Chief Electoral Officer for the State directed that the name should be retained upon the State roll, and to withdraw the objection, because Carberry was living in the subdivision. It must not be forgotten that in this respect the Commonwealth and State laws are somewhat similar, yet notwithstanding that instruction by Mr. Molloy, Constable Weppner has sent to the Divisional Returning Officer for the Federal electorate the name of this man as one to which objection should be taken. He holds that he should not be on the roll for the subdivision of Ballan.
– The constable must be an Orangeman.
– I do not know whether he is or is not; but he is not a fair man. The statement continues -
Arthur Douglas Dare. - Works about 4 miles from Ballan. Has so resided for past two months.
William George Glenister. - Has lived in the subdivision for past six months, and has, during that time, been in the employ of the one man.
Mary Franklin Nolan. - Pensioner. Has lived in township for past six months. At present resides two doors from the Post Office. A well-known identity.
Albert Lilburne. - Has not left address given in rolls.
Elizabeth Nagle. - Born and reared within 7 or 8 miles of Ballan. Doubtful if ever out of district in her life. This is a case similar to that of John Carberry, where a previous unsuccessful attempt was made on State rolls.
Robert McClelland. - Has lived at Beremboke for past ten years. Has not been absent for more than a couple of days during that time.
Catherine McClelland.- Wife of Robert McClelland, permanent resident at Beremboke.
Robert McClelland. - Son of above-mentioned parents. Lives with them, and has not been out of district for past six months.
George Mason Spink. - Has worked in district for past five or six years. At present employed on farm about 5 miles from Ballan, and has been so employed for past two years.
Michael Conroy - Perhaps the worst case. His name has been removed. He was bornin the district, and has never lived out of it.
The point to be remembered in respect of Conroy’s case is that there was no objection to his name appearing on the roll.
It was accidently discovered that it had been removed, although no notice of objection had been sent to Conroy. He was born in the district, and has never lived out of it. These fourteen cases should be a sufficient answer to the misstatement by the Prime Minister at Tamworth on Saturday last that there was not a tittle of truth in the allegations that were being made regarding the removal of names from the rolls.
– I made no such statement at Tamworth.
– It was at Parramatta.
– Nor did I make such a statement at Parramatta.
– The Argus of Tuesday last reports the right honorable gentleman as saying -
Almost every day we are listening to charges of manipulating the rolls and gerrymandering the electorates. There is not a tittle of truth in any of the statements they are making.
I charge the Government with having allowed persons to send in objections to names appearing on the rolls without requiring a deposit of 5s. to be lodged with each objection.
– For the sake of the Liberal party.
– Is there any truth in that statement ?
– Absolutely no truth.
– It was admitted by the Honorary Minister.
– It was not.
– We had the sworn evidence of a Liberal organizer named Brazenor, when before the Electoral Commission, that he had sent in objections to the names of 4,200 persons.
– What of that?
– And in not 500 of those cases could the objection be sustained. If that man had been required to lodge 5s. with each objection sent in by him he would have been more careful. I ask the Attorney-General whether it is not a serious matter that agents for political parties should be sending in to the Electoral Registrars long lists of names to be objected to, and asking that those names should be removed? The Government have sent out the police to make a canvass; but they have really been sent out to strike names off the roll and not to put them on. The police send in to the Electoral Officer the names to which they think objection should be taken, and the Electoral Officer has not the means at his command to make a proper investigation. Ballan, for instance, is 20 miles from Ballarat, and the Registrar at the last-named city must take the word of the police in these matters. In this case he would be taking the word of a very biased man.
– Archdale Parkhill is striking the names off the rolls in New South Wales.
– I do not know what is being done there. I am dealing with what is happening in my own electorate. If the Liberal party can capture the Ballarat seat by fair means then “ good luck to them.” I do not desire to represent a minority; but I do wish to see retained on the rolls every name that should remain there. Volunteers in the Labour movement who are prepared to make sacrifices for the cause have gone from house to house within a radius of 10 miles in the Ballan subdivision with the object of securing the re-enrolment of those whose names have been improperly removed from the rolls and objected to.
– The Prime Minister was having an interview yesterday with Archdale Parkhill in regard to election matters.
– I shall leave representatives of New South Wales to deal with that. I am dealing with a specific case.
– Does not the honorable member think that he ought to blame Archdale Parkhill for that?
– No, I am blaming Constable Weppner in the first place.
– Blame the Government.
– The fact that the Chief Electoral Officer for the State held that John Carberry and Elizabeth Nagle were entitled to remain on the State roll should have been sufficient evidence to justify their retention on the Commonwealth roll.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this police officer is acting in a wrong way ?
– He is a distinctly biased officer, bitterly biased.
– How does he vote?
– I do not know. He is a newcomer in the district. But I have read to the House the names of people who are living about his own door-way, so to speak - people whom he is meeting every day. It seems to mc, therefore, that only a bitter partisan could act as he has done. There can be no doubt as to that. He would not be permitted to act as he is doing if the Electoral Act were carried out in its integrity.
– Has the honorable member heard what he has to say?
– I know that these names were accepted for State enrolment.
– The honorable member is trying to damn a man without hearing him - taking a man’s bread and butter away from him.
– The Prime Minister says that I am condemning a man without hearing what his explanation is.
– The honorable member says that this action is being taken by Government instruction. Prove it.
– I am going to prove it. The Prime Minister says I am damning men, without their having an opportunity of being heard. I have to go before the electors in the course of a few months, and I will be quite prepared to abide by their judgment. The people in that locality know that I am telling the truth, and that there is no right to object to these names. I charge the Government with having, through the AttorneyGeneral, opened the door for the disfranchisement of electors. The AttorneyGeneral, immediately after he came into office, let it be known, first of all through the Liberal Leagues, that they could, through their agents, furnish information to the electoral officers, and that the fee of 5s., which is supposed to accompany an objection, need not be paid. In thousands these names have been furnished, with the result that thousands of names of electors have been struck off the roll, although they are entitled to remain on the roll. I know that the answer of the Attorney-General will be that the particulars supplied by the agents to the electoral officers are not objections, but merely information. That is very true, but the Government have not given the electoral officers sufficient help to enable them to investigate these objections. I would not impose a monetary penalty upon any one who lodges an objection against a person who has a right to remain on the roll. I would put that man in gaol for six months. It ought to be a criminal offence to remove from the roll the names of people who are residents in a district, and many of whom have never removed from the one locality. We could give tomorrow morning the names of 200 people in the Ballarat electorate who have never left their houses during the last ten years, and yet objections have been sent out in regard to them. That is most unfair. If the Government think they are going to secure a victory by these means at the forthcoming elections, they are making a huge blunder. The people are awakening to the fact that something unfair is being attempted in connexion with the rolls. In my district the people themselves are organizing, because they recognise that no one’s vote is secure when so many objections are being sent out, simply because the Government have decided to accept the information sent in by various political agents, without requiring the payment of the fee of 5s., which should accompany every objection.
– From the way in which the honorable member is squealing, it is quite evident that some “ dead-heads” are going off the roll.
– I do not want any “ dead-heads “ on the roll. The Liberal party charged us with having at the last elections gone to the cemeteries and raised the dead to vote for us. In my own electorate, if we can combat the unfair methods of the Liberal organizers, we can win without the assistance of the dead, and I shall come back to this Chamber with a majority of, not 358, but 2,000 or 3,000. I know that 259 names have been struck off Ballan subdivision. In addition to that, there have been 165 names objected to, although in scores of cases the people have never left the district. I guarantee that during the last three months many of those people have not been out of the subdivision for one day, yet objections have been sent to them. In many cases the wife receives the objection, places it on the mantel-piece, and forgets all about it. Then when the election comes round, the husband finds that he has no vote,
– That is a slander on the wife.
– It is not. The wife is busy with her household duties, and has quite enough to do, but I can assure the honorable member that in Ballarat, after twelve months’ experience of the Cook
Government, the housewives are taking a keen interest in politics. The present Government came into power with a promise to reduce the cost of living, and the cost of living has been increasing while they have been in power.
– That is not true.
– It is true. I will hand in a list of names, and the honorable member can make whatever investigation he chooses.
– What is the good of investigating? You have pronounced judgment. You give a verdict, and now you ask us to get the evidence.
– Let the honorable member make the investigation straight away, and I am satisfied what the result will be.
– You have not the instincts of fair play.
– Mention of the instincts of fair play comes well from the Leader of a Government who are disfranchising thousands of electors. The honorable member may laugh-
– I do laugh at such lies. What else can one do with lies like that?
– The Government ha.ve done their best to disfranchise, in a wholesale manner, thousands of electors. I quite believe the circular which the Prime Minister read the other day as having been issued from some Labour office in New South Wales, and m which an appeal was addressed to the electors to get on the rolls on account of the latest dodge of the Cook Government. The circular was badly needed, and we shall want something like that in the Ballarat district, when we have 22 per cent, of the voters in one subdivision objected to.
– Who objected ?
– The names have been sent in by the local constable, acting on instructions from the Government. The Government made no preparation whatever to put people on the roll. There were no instructions issued that the police should carry enrolment cards; so far as I can gather, the only instruction to them was to ascertain the names of the people who have gone away from the district for which they were enrolled. When the constable went to a house and found the elector temporarily away, he marked a cross against that name, and the Divisional Officer had no alternative but to send out an objection. In many cases the working people, particularly in the farming districts, are continually moving away from their homes. They are not permanently employed in one place, although their homes are permanent.
– For twenty minutes you have been making charges against the Government. Now tell us one thing the Government have done.
– The first thing that the Government did was to issue a regulation abolishing the payment of 5s. in connexion with every objection.
– Where is the regulation ?
– I do not know.
– And because you do not know you are so very glib in making charges. Where is the instruction?
– The AttorneyGeneral cannot deny that, shortly after his assumption of office, he issued, through the press, instructions to all political parties that they could lodge an information without paying the fee of 5s., which the Electoral Act requires to be paid. Indeed, the Government made provision to that effect in their Bill of 1913. They should have waited until their Bill became an Act of Parliament, but they have anticipated matters somewhat. If Mr. Brazenor had to lodge 5s. with every objection, he would be very careful before making any objection, and would satisfy himself that the persons objected to had really left the district. I do not think that he would have objected to 4,200 names had he been forced to lodge 5s. with each objection. But we are not alarmed about these objections now. We know that not more than 500 of the names objected to have been removed from the roll. There has been a foolish idea abroad that we in Ballarat won the last election by the means of the absentee votes cast at Broken Hill ; but those votes numbered only thirty-three. I suppose that I got them all, because those who live at Broken Hill are intelligent persons. It was my duty to draw attention to what is going on in connexion with the compilation of the rolls. I have exposed what I believe to be a most unfair action on the part of the Government.
– I can compliment the honorable member for Bal- larat upon his candour, though not upon his judgment or sincerity.
– Nor upon the accuracy of his statements.
– He referred to a leaflet to which the right honorable the Prime Minister drew attention a few days ago in this chamber - a leaflet issued by the Worker, or under the sign of the Worker press - full of the grossest and most deliberate falsehoods. The honorable member said that he was glad that that leaflet had been issued, and that it was time that something of the kind was issued in the constituency which he represents. That is a fair indication of the sort of contest upon which honorable members opposite, or some of them, propose to enter.
– The Attorney-General started it.
– Had I been guilty of every wickedness under the sun, would honorable members opposite, or their newspapers, or their associations, be therefore justified in issuing false and calumnious statements?
– They are not false.
– Every word in the leaflet to which I have referred is absolutely false. The accusation made by the honorable member for Ballarat is one which has been brought against me for, perhaps, the hundred and fiftieth time this afternoon; it is that I am guilty of having advised people to break the electoral law. I have disregarded that and the host of other personal accusations which have been showered on my head by honorable members opposite and their supporters outside, because I have been particularly anxious that the immediate business before the House should be disposed of, and had I attempted to meet all the calumnies circulated concerning me, that would not have been possible.
– -Even when we have done our best, we can reply to only 1 per cent, of these statements.
-To only a very small proportion of them. The Prime Minister is in the same position as myself in that respect. The statement to which I am now referring is being reiterated, with the sanction of the Leader of the Opposition, on the eve of a general election, and must, therefore, be met. The accusation is made that I, having been intrusted by my colleagues with the duty of looking into the electoral law, authorized the issue of a regulation, or an instruction, permitting a provision of the Electoral Act requiring the lodging of 5s. with objections to names on the roll to be dispensed with. My reply is, first, that no regulation or instruction of the kind has been issued.
– Was an intimation made ?
– A statement was made by me which was widely published. I have repeated it on several occasions, and do so again now. That statement is that it is not only the right, but also the duty, of every law-abiding citizen, and of every association of lawabiding citizens, to give all information possible to assist the electoral officers in cleansing the rolls on which the election is to be held.
– -Information of a lying nature ?
– Is every damned scoundrel to do this sort of thing?
– The honorable member for Dalley must not interject.
– I will interject.
– Order !
– If I have to withdraw, I withdraw.
– This intimation by a member of the Government to all who are busying themselves, on both sides of politics, in trying to cleanse the rolls, that it is a desirable, patriotic, and proper thing to furnish information, has been construed into a statement that persons may do something without paying 5s. for which the Act requires 5s. to be paid. This construction can be put upon my words only with the deliberate desire to mislead the public, or because of complete ignorance of the provisions of the electoral law. I am prepared to give some of my honorable friends opposite the benefit of the doubt, and to assume that what they have said has proceeded from complete ignorance of the law about which they have been speaking.
– Thank you.
– I give the honorable member the benefit of the doubt, because if I do not assume that he is ignorant, and he repeats the statement, he must be taken to wilfully and deliberately intend to mislead those whom it is his duty to enlighten.
– I shall quote on the public platform words used by the honorable member, and reported in Hansard.
-I intend, once and for all, to dispose of this shameful attempt on the part of some honorable members to distort the truth and to mislead the public. There is in the Electoral Act a provision requiring the payment of 5s. in connexion with the lodging of a formal objection to a name on the roll. Section 67 gives the right to any one to call upon, through the Returning Officers, any person whose name is enrolled to show cause why his name should not be struck off the roll, but for the exercise of that privilege 5s. must be paid. When that is done, it becomes the duty of the Returning Officer to give notice forthwith to the person to whose name objection has been taken. Section 70 says -
The notice may be in the prescribed form, and be served by posting it to the last-known place of abode of the person objected to ; or, if that is not known, then to the place cf living appearing on the roll.
Where the Returning Officer is satisfied that the ground of objection stated in any objection is not a good ground of objection, he may dismiss the objection, in which case no notice of the objection need he given to the person objected to.
Section 71 says -
The person objected to may, orally or in writing, in the prescribed manner, answer the objection.
Section 72 adds: -
On receipt of the answer of the person objected to, or after the expiration of twenty days from the posting of the notice, the Returning Officer shall determine the objection, and if it appears that the person objected to is not qualified or entitled to be enrolled on the roll, shall strike out his name.
If any objection is held by the Returning Officer to be frivolous, the person objected to shall he entitled to a reasonable allowance, not exceeding £5.
This is a perfectly familiar form of summons to show cause. The person who wishes to place himself in the position of an objector, and who claims the right to insist on the Returning Officer investigating any particular case, and, on summoning an elector to show cause, must start the process by paying 5s., and incurs the liability, if not successful, of having to pay costs to a sum not exceeding £5. That is an ordinary case of giving to a man the right, under certain conditions, to become what is known in law as an actor in judicial proceedings.
Every man who desires to purchase the right to insist that the Returning Officer shall pursue his objection and have it tested, must still lodge 5s. with his objection. That provision does not conflict with, nor in the least degree affect, the duty lying on every Registrar, on the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, and on the electoral officer for each State, and all other electoral officers, to receive information from any source from which they can get it.
– Outside an electorate, even ?
– From any source from which they can get it.
– Archdale Parkhill sent objections to 1,400 names on the Riverina roll.
– The provision to which I refer does not in the slightest degree affect the duty which lies on all electoral officers to receive information from any source from which they can get it. It is only when there is a formal objection that they are bound to act by summoning the person whose enrolment is objected to to show cause why his name shall not be removed from the roll. Other information which comes to their hands is merely information on which they may or may not act.
– They would not have acted on it had it not been for the honorable member’s intimation.
– On the contrary, I tell you, and the Chief Electoral Officer will tell you the same thing, that the electoral officers have always deemed it to be their duty to act on information of the kind to which I refer. How could it be otherwise? Honorable members must bring a little common sense to bear on these matters. If they do, they will see that no Electoral Office could be administered properly unless those in charge of the cleansing of the rolls were prepared to receive, from any source that they thought reliable, information that would enable them to act. The honorable member for Ballarat has given us to-day a very fair example of the kind of statements that have been brought before this House, over and over again, and have been repeated from platforms as if conclusive evidence of the truth. He has given us a list of statements made regarding certain individuals. We have had such statements in quired into over and over again, and these statements will be inquired into. Every other similar statement has been investigated by the Electoral officials, under the direction of the Government. Probably, there will be very little more substance in the statements which the honorable member has brought under notice than there has been found in most other similar statements. But there shall be investigation - I can tell the honorable member that. Before any investigation is made, however, a constable, who is carrying out his public duties, is charged by the honorable member for Ballarat with being partial - a biased partisan.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Ballarat must withdraw those words.
– I withdraw the words, and say that the honorable member’s statement is incorrect. I did make au investigation.
– Even if I possessed the time, I do not intend to waste more with the honorable member, who, as I say, has given us a specimen of the kind of thing with which we may expect to meet in the election fight. Without any inquiry or information beyond that supplied, perhaps, in a partial hearsay statement of some friends of his own, he publicly charges a public officer, who is carrying out his duties under the Act, with being a partisan, simply because, in trying to cleanse the rolls, he has brought a considerable number of names under the notice of the Returning Officer.
.- Whether I am one of the shameful section or one of the ignorant section of this party, so courteously described by the Attorney-General, I desire to say that the whole responsibility for the scandalous removal of names from the rolls, rests with the Ministry, and the place to say that is on the floor of the House, and now.
– You may as well tell a lie here as anywhere else!
– I have to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw those words.
– I withdraw the words.
– The whole position arises, in the first place, from the publication of such statements as were made the- other day by the Honorary Minister when the question of the deposit was before us, and when he cynically declared that this legal provision as to the deposit had “ all gone by the board.”
– “Where did I say that?
– The honorable gentleman was standing just about where he is now sitting.
– Can the honorable member produce the statement?
– I heard it.
– The honorable member’s statement is like that he made about the armoured tram, and many other statements he has been convicted of in the past.
– Does the honorable member say that I have ever been convicted of anything?
– The honorable member was convicted of gross inaccuracy in the matter of the armoured tram.
– I do not know to what the honorable member is referring, and I am not to be led away by any offensive innuendoes which, characteristically enough, the honorable member chooses to utter in this House.
– You remember the statement all right !
– I must ask the Honorary Minister not to interject.
– All I reply is that the Honorary Minister is, apparently, referring to the fact that his friends are using the evidence of perjurers against us in a certain case that is before the Court at the present time.
– I ask the honorable member for Batman not to follow up irrelevant interjections.
– Is not this perjured witness one of your pals who got you the job?
– The Honorary Minister is out of order.
– The Prime Minister has, a dozen times, from the Treasury bench informed the House that every effort is to he made to purge the rolls, but I have never yet once heard him say that any effort will be made, not only to remove names, but to include the names of all who are entitled to be enrolled.
– The honorable member must be conveniently deaf, for I have said so a dozen times.
– Next, we had the public statement of the Attorney-General, in which he invited persons to make representations in order that the rolls might be “ purged “ and “ purified “ ; in other words, in order that names might be removed. It is as obvious as anything could be, that the Government hope to win the forthcoming election by stripping the rolls of many of the names now on them. The Government appear to believe, though I can scarcely think it is an honest belief, that the rolls were so unduly inflated at the last election that many persons voted who had no right to do so, and that others voted twice.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we would knowingly remove the names of people who are entitled to be on the rolls?
– I am merely pointing out that the constant invitation by the right honorable gentleman to people to “purge” the rolls is causing his officers everywhere in Australia to disregard the plain provisions of the Statute requiring a certain procedure to be followed, and the deposit of 5s. as a guarantee of good faith. There is hardly a member on this side of the House but who has mentioned scores of persons in his electorate whose names have been challenged, and, in many cases, improperly removed.
– Is the honorable member’s side not getting any names removed from the rolls?
– The AttorneyGeneral read the section of the Act up to a certain point, and there stopped, but I desire to direct attention to these further words, as contained in sub-section 3 of section 70 -
An objection on the ground that a person does not live in a division for which he is enrolled shall be deemed not to be good unless : -
That is the form an objection always takes, namely, that the person does not live, and has not lived for one month, in the subdivision. In one case I asked an officer why he had caused a name to be challenged, and his explanation was that the police, when they called at the address, had not been supplied with the name. Yet the objection to that name takes the form that the person does not live, and has not lived for a month, in the division. Neither the person who made the objection nor the person who had to consider it had any evidence - but the negative evidence referred to - that the person had so ceased to reside for one month or one minute.
– Who decides that names are to be removed ?
– The police give the information that a certain name has not been supplied to them.
– How many names have been removed in such cases ?
– I do not know.
– The honorable member does not know, and that is why he talks so confidently about these things !
– Like other honorable members on this side, I know what is being done in my own electorate, and that the total number of improper removals runs into thousands.
– Tell us what has been done in your electorate - definite cases.
– The honorable member asks for a definite case, and I shall give him one to show how the section is being overridden and the law disregarded. The name of a person who had resided in the same place for twenty years was challenged, and a notice was sent that unless, within twenty days, cause was shown, the name would be removed from the roll. The matter was brought under my notice, and I wrote for an explanation of the fact that, under the circumstances, the person, who in this case was a lady, would be put to the trouble of defending her case or having her name struck off the roll. The explanation that was forwarded to me was that when the police called for the names of those resident in the house this particular name was not supplied. As I have already pointed out, the form of the notice of objection by the Registrar is that the person does not reside, and has not resided for a month, in any part of the division of Batman; and the person who made the objection could not have had the slightest knowledge of whether this lady did reside or had ceased to reside in the subdivision, much less in the division, which means the entire electorate. It was enough for him that the name was not there and then supplied at the particular place and time. The section in the Act shows how strict were the conditions laid down relating to objections; and how jealously the members of the Labour party, when a Government, guarded the interests of persons entitled to exercise the franchise. It is provided in the Act that any outsider who lodges an objection shall make a deposit of 5s., and render himself liable for costs; but I say deliberately that, as the result of the public utterances of the AttorneyGeneral, who invites the public to raise objections, and as a result of the action of the Prime Minister in repeatedly declaring in this House and outside that the rolls must be “ purged,” and, further, as a result of the cynical observation of the Honorary Minister in regard to the provision for the deposit having “ all gone by the board “-
– Does the honorable member not desire the rolls purged ?
– What I say is that, as a result of the attitude of Ministers, whose object plainly is to strip the rolls of names and not to have names added, any person, however inconsequential, and on grounds however slender, may lodge objections, and render persons liable to have their names removed. Day after day hundreds of names are being taken off the rolls, and I cannot see how, under the circumstances, we can have the “ square, standup fight” mentioned by the Prime Minister. Of course, I do not accuse the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General of deliberately causing names to be removed, but emphatically say that their declarations invite private individuals to disregard the law, and invite Returning Officers to challenge names on quite insufficient grounds. I submit that the charge made by the honorable member for Ballarat is absolutely sustained by the facts.
– The honorable member for Batman charges the Government with having departed from the practice of our predecessors. He declared that the provision in regard to the deposit of 5s. is no longer carried out, and endeavoured to make us believe that it was always exacted when the Labour Government were in power. Is that the case? A dead silence ! The honorable member said, in effect, that every objection lodged when the Labour Government were in power carried with it a deposit of 5s.
-i say that was the law, and is the law.
– Was it the practice?
– I do not know whether the law has been broken at other times.
– Will the honorable member say that it was always the practice to exact the deposit when the Labour Government were in power ?
– Then I am here to tell honorable members that under the previous Administration only one deposit of 5s. was made.
– And the present Government would have had no more, had they carried out the law.
– Yet honorable members opposite talk about desiring clean rolls. If honorable members wish to get a true indication of what sincerity there is behind the present protestations of honorable members opposite, they should weigh a statement that fell from the lips of the honorable member for Batman. Speaking of a gentleman who had only recently been secretary of a union, to which he is the legal adviser - speaking of the very gentleman who got him that remunerative job in connexion with that union - he described him as a perjurer. Thus he spoke of a man to whom he has owed so much in the last few years.
– What has that to do with this case?
– It is an instance of the amount of credence that one can place on other statements that fall from the lips of a gentleman who so describes a man who has so considerably benefited him during the last few years. Words fail me to express my contempt of that sort of strong language as used against one who has been a benefactor to the man who abuses him.
What is the actual position with regard to this 5s. fee? We have heard so much - it can only he described in a word of three letters - of this bogus charge throughout Australia recently that we might as well know exactly what is done in the matter of objecting to names on the rolls. When any person has reason to believe that a man or woman whose name appears on a roll is no longer resident in the subdivision, it is his or her duty, as the case may be, as an ordinary patriotic citizen, to acquaint the authorities with the fact, and allow the authorities to inquire into the accuracy of it. People come forward and acquaint the Electoral Office, and the office inquires into the facts. That is all that happens. The honorable member for Ballarat says that it is not fair to put the duty on the office to inquire into the facts, because, as he says, after an objection is lodged, and a notice is sent to the elector whose name is objected to, the wives of Ballarat have so little regard for the interests of their husbands that they do not bother about bringing the notices under the attention of their husbands, and so the latter become disfranchised.
– You are too funny!
– It is a funny but most regrettable thing to say about the housewives of Ballarat.
– The statement was that they put the notice on the mantelpiece, and do not bother about it further.
– Yes. “It is only for the old man ; we need not bother about it ! “ That is their attitude, according to the honorable member for Ballarat. But the statement of the honorable member shows conclusively that whenever any organizers come along, Liberal or Labour, and say that So-and-so has left the district, the office does not take the word of these organizers, but sends along the notice of objection to the address of the elector objected to. Then, of course, if he takes no notice of it, and does not go to the office, or let it know that it is a mistake, the office naturally assumes that the man is not living at the address given.
– Why should he be objected to if he has not left the district?
– The honorable member would like to have on the Ballarat roll as many names as possible, whether they are entitled to be there or not.
– That is the way your mob play the game.
– We are charged with being improperly behind the officers because they are not playing that game.
– I did not say it about the electoral officers. I said it about your party.
– Because the electoral officers are engaged in cleansing the rolls honorable members opposite are wildly angry and furious; and members of the Government are accused of being directly responsible for what the electoral officers are required to do by the very Act honorable members passed. If there is no truth in this gross slander on the housewives of Ballarat, and if a person receiving an objection acts reasonably on receiving it, and takes proper caution to protect his own interests, no person who is entitled to be there can be removed from the Commonwealth roll. But what do we find has arisen in New South Wales to-day ? The Labour leagues are makins doubly sure that there is to be an inflated roll by telling people that their names are being removed when that is not the case. I heard of one instance in Sydney-
– Give a concrete instance; state the name.
– I ask the honorable member to go to Senator McDougall in another place. He made a charge that the name of a lady had been removed from the roll, and I understand that when he came forward in order to substantiate it all he could produce was a notice from a Political Labour League, to tell her that her name had been removed from the roll, though all the time it had not been removed. However, the League said it was not there, and an innocent person in another place accepted the statement of the League and thought it was good enough to fire off at the Government. That is one case. I believe this sort of thing is going on all over Australia. I believe the motion put up this afternoon is only another chapter in a veritable conspiracy of mendacity with the object of-
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that the words “conspiracy of mendacity,” as applied to members on this side of the Chamber, be withdrawn.
– If the honorable member uttered those words as applying to honorable members they should be withdrawn.
– In order to save time, I withdraw the words. If the honorable member takes them to himself I cannot blame him. All over Australia we hear this sort of thing whispered at street corners - that the Government are determined to stop people getting on the roll, whereas all that the present Administration is doing is what was done under our predecessors, that is to say, inquiring into the value of any reasonable information submitted to the electoral officers.
– Do you say that the previous Government did that?
– The Electoral Department of the previous Government did identically the same thing. I have already said that, so far as I can ascertain, there was only one instance of any person lodging a deposit of 5s. during the time of the previous Administration, and it may amuse honorable members to know that the reason which actuated the person who lodged that 5s. was to inform the world at large that a lady who figured on the electoral roll, say, in the name of Mrs. Jones, had no right to be called Mrs. Jones.
We know that the practice honorable members condemn is the same as that followed under the administration of the previous Government, we know that the electoral officers are loyally trying to do their duty, and 1 appeal to honorable members opposite, whose ingenuity and activity are surely enough on which to enable one to base some hopes of better things, to bury this lie 6 feet deep, so that it cannot be again repeated during the course of the coming election.
.- The speakers on the other side have used a- lot of heat in the matter. I am a new member, and it is the first time I have heard honorable members using such violent language. They have not, however, touched on the point raised by the honorable member for Ballarat. At the beginning of the session there was a lot of bandying of words about slandering the general public, and a lot of talk about how loose a measure the Electoral Act was in allowing of duplication and inflation of rolls, and heaven knows what. The only safeguard in the Act appears to be the deposit of 5s. I happened to be in the Electoral Office in Adelaide on the day the lady referred to by the Honorary Minister lodged an objection against some one else who was masquerading as her husband’s wife, to which she objected. The abrogation of the provision in the Act means the further opening of the door to a lot of mendacity on the part of members of Liberal unions. We do not come to the House and make statements without backing them up. The honorable member for Ballarat has given names, and is prepared to back up his accusations. I wish to show the effect the abrogation of this fee has had on the Liberal Union in South Australia. This union is at the head of the Fusion in that State, and the present Commonwealth Government is a Fusion Government, and we can judge them by the company they keep. I have a copy of the official circular of the Liberal Union in South Australia appearing under the names of Mr. A. J. McLachlan, president, and Mr. H. G. Freeman, general secretary, and dated the 17th June, 1914. I shall not quote the whole of the circular, because it proceeds to advertise the candidates whom tl’0 union supports, but there is one name on that list to which I must draw attention. When men sneak out of the Labour party, they seem to find a haven of rest o i the other side. I see the name of P. N. Daley, described as “a further supporter of country interests.” He ran on two occasions as an outright Labour man, but could not secure election, and so now he is taken into the fold of the Liberal Union. There is one paragraph in this circular which is headed “ Cleanse the rolls.” That is the cry with which the Liberals are going round.
– Do you object to cleansing the rolls?
– We do not. We like to see a clean person ; but if a person has to wash with dirty water, he will not make much of a job of it. That is what the Government are doing. Their efforts are not calculated to bring about the desired result of clean rolls. We do not fear clean rolls. I hope that the roll in South Australia will be absolutely clean, so that there may be no chance of fuddling the electors. Last time we gave the Liberals a hot time, and this time we will give them beans. We are going to capture nearly, if not wholly, two more seats in South Australia. That is something that honorable members can take home and sleep on. Let us see what the Liberals are doing in South Australia. In this circular under the heading of “ Cleanse the rolls” they say -
Do not delay hi sending me the names of Labour supporters who are on the latest rolls sunt to you, and have lost their qualifications, that I may have them struck off.
– Do you wish the names to remain there if the persons have not the qualifications?
– I shall deal with that point later. This circular proceeds -
You have little time. The next roll published, which will appear after the writs issue -
See how cute he is. He says, “Let us get in before they have time to deal with the matter “ - will be the one on which the election is fought. There will be no supplementary roll.
They knew something from the Government -
So have your full strength recorded now, and do not let your opponents have any advantage over you, or any reserve strength for double voting.
There is the slander. There is the lie issued by the secretary of the Liberal Union in South Australia, and subscribed to by Mr. A. J. McLachlan, just as the “ breeding-cows “ libel was subscribed to by Senator Vardon and printed in his office. Though they sacked one man afterwards as a scape-goat, it did not relieve them of the responsibility of uttering that scandal, just as now they are issuing this slander against this side, who can beat them one hand and kneeling in a fair fight. This circular illustrates the power that has been given by the construction the Attorney-General placed on the section of the Act which demands the 5s. deposit; and the Government know that if they had not given their acquiescence to the reading of the provision in that way, the people of Australia would observe the provision, and any one with a legitimate objection would put down the deposit of 5s. as a bona fide of his desire to have a clean roll. But the slander does not stop at electors who have the right to exercise the franchise. It goes much further. It is well known that the majority of the electoral officers have Liberal rather than Labour leanings; yet even they are hit at. The Liberal party tell us that they are going to have a cleansing of the rolls. From their point of view, everything is going to be put right, but I am confident that on the Monday following the general elections we shall have them saying that everything is all wrong. People nowadays are not to be gulled by such trash. It has been said that we did nothing to cleanse the rolls, and that we told those who merely thought they were not on the rolls to send in fresh applications.
The actual facts are that at every meeting that we hold a copy of the rolls is on view. If any elector finds that his name is not on the roll, he is advised to send in a fresh application card. Here is another statement in this circular from the general secretary of the Liberal Union of South Australia -
Electoral Officers. - I shall be pleased if you will report to me early any cases where the local electoral officers who have charge of the conduct of the polling, &c, are not men of sober habits and good character, impartial in their judgment, and capable of carrying out duties imposed upon them in a trustworthy and intelligent manner, satisfactory to the general public; or the same in respect of any temporary men employed. This election must be carried out on fair and honorable lines.
Apparently, Mr. Freeman has power to see that things are put right. This is an intimation that the policy to be adopted by the Liberal party is that of “ Spoils to the victors. The Liberal party are on top ! They will do what you want!” Whom do they propose shall judge these electoral officials? When the Labour party were in power, the Minister of Home Affairs found that in certain cases the position was unsatisfactory, and he openly directed that certain individuals should not be employed as electoral officials. When this became known, a great hubbub was raised. Here, however, we have the general secretary of the Liberal Union of South Australia taking this action. There can be no doubt that those declared to be lacking in sobriety, in intelligence, or wanting in honour, would be officials with Labour leanings. I left this House for Adelaide on Friday last with the words of the Prime Minister ringing in my ears, “ Sheet home one case.” What has he to say to this complaint? Does the right honorable gentleman wish us to prove our charges in each case by bringing before him the Liberal organizer and the man whose enrolment has been objected to by him, in order to prove that the elector is not dead, and has not removed from the subdivision in question ? In this circular Mr. Freeman asks the organizers of the Liberal party to let him know the names of Labour supporters who have lost their qualification for enrolment.
– Are not the words “ Labour supporters “ underlined in that circular ?
– They are.
– But read on.
– The statement in the circular is -
Do not delay in sending me the names of Labour supporters who are on the latest rolls sent you, and have lost their qualifications.
– Exactly. “Lost their qualifications.”
– I have before me a list of names of persons who have not shifted from their usual place of residence, but whose names have been objected to by these Liberal organizers. Here are three cases -
Scheffers, Marinus J., Port Pirie, eleven years’ resident.
Baldock, Alfred E., Port Pirie, twenty years’ resident.
Burke, Martin, Port Pirie, fifteen years’ resident.
All these, according to the Liberal organizers, have lost their qualifications. When I asked the Honorary Minister last week a question regarding the removal of these and other names from the rolls, I was told that I should have made inquiries before bringing the matter before the House. I was not permitted to explain that inquiries had been made, and that no satisfaction could be obtained, the name of the individual who had sent in these objections not having been given. The list does not stop there. In the case of a Mr. Biscoby, he was told by Mr. W. G. Brennan that his name had been reported by a Liberal Union organizer. I have it on official authority that the list from which that name was taken was a large one sent in by a Liberal organizer. I believe that, following the usual practice, notices of objection were sent out, but why should any one be allowed to object to the enrolment of a man who has been resident in one place for twenty years? We do not mind a fair objection, but we take exception to tactics of this kind. We have been accused of passing an Electoral Act which opens the door to fraud. After the last general elections the Liberal party and their newspapers made allegations of dual voting, and said that even the dead had been resurrected to vote. The Electoral Commission has obtained no evidence to support any of these charges, and we now find that the Department is lending itself to a practice which is likely to make the rolls even worse than they were. We were asked to sheet home one case. We have sheeted home more than one, and when the honorable member for Ballarat this afternoon sheeted home several cases, the Prime Minister’s reply was that the honorable member was taking an unfair advantage of the police officer concerned. If he had not mentioned his name the right honorable gentleman would have said, “ Tell me who is doing this, and I will have the matter looked into.” The Government have an opportunity now to do something. Let them ascertain from Mr. Freeman how many objections have been sent in as the result of his circular, and also how many objections have been lodged by representatives of the Labour party of South Australia. I am prepared to say that we have not lodged any. When I was secretary of the Labour party there it was not my desire to cause any names to be removed, but I did my best to see that every qualified person was enrolled. We worked in the open. Any person was free to call at our office. Our doors were always open, and more than once we had inquiries from persons who, it was palpable, came there only to “ quiz.” One woman even asked me to mark off in Hansard the names of the Liberal and Labour members. I did not know whether she was a suffragette or not, but I did what she asked. I repeat that we work with open doors, and that, in order to win an election, we have never descended to tactics which will not bear the full light of day.
– The honorable member for Adelaide has treated us to many boastful anticipations. I am afraid that his services as a prophet have not been fully recognised, but, by way of consolation, I would remind him that on great authority a prophet is not without honour save in his own country. The honorable member seems to have been greatly perturbed by the issue of a circular by the Liberal Union of South Australia, the very substance of which is an instruction to organizers to advise the general secretary of the names of any Labour supporters who are on the roll, although they are not qualified to be on the roll.
– But why Labour supporters only?
– The object of’ the organization is a most legitimate one. All that is asked is that the name of any Labour supporter who is not qualified to vote shall be removed from the roll. Do honorable members opposite object to that?
– Certainly not.
– Then, why all this indignation on the part of the Opposition ? Is there not a just reason for the action taken ? It is notorious that the rolls are inflated and unreliable. As to the charge that so many thousands have really been struck off the rolls, I have some official figures of interest. The number of names on the rolls at the date of the last Federal elections, and the approximate number on the rolls at the present time, are shown in the following statement prepared under the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer : -
– What is the difference between the enrolment now and then ?
– A trifling difference of 10,000.
– Since then the population has increased by about a quarter of a million.
– The population has increased, as the honorable member now says, by a quarter of a million, and the number of persons on the rolls has decreased by 10,000. But, the supplemental roll has yet to be prepared. The statement of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer continues -
The rolls are at the present time in an active state of re-adjustment, both as regards enrolment and removal of names, and the figures in column 3-
That refers to the 31st May, 1914- cannot be taken as a reliable index of the enrolment for the purposes of the election.
There has been considerable activity in regard to enrolment since the 31st May last.
It is a very regrettable condition of affairs that the cleansing and purging of the rolls is made such a bitter party question. The bitterness oE the attack by the Opposition side is most unjust and unfair. Only one thing would justify the attacks which have been made, and that is if honorable members opposite were able to indicate or bring a scintilla of evidence to show that there had been any corrupt or improper practice on the pa.rt of the Government in connexion with the making up of the rolls. There has never been the slightest proof or evidence of any kind. All these slanderous statements are made on various platforms, and charges are hurled against the Government although honorable gentlemen opposite well know there is no foundation whatever for them. If the attacks mean anything at all they mean that there is collusion existing between the Government and the Electoral Officers.
– If that is so, that denial absolutely gives the lie direct to the charges which have been made. Those charges must necessarily amount to an allegation of collusion between the Government and the Electoral Officers. They also mean that the Electoral Officers are dishonest in the discharge of their duties. The attacks mean a want of confidence in those officers. I believe the officers are honestly doing their duty, and that such attacks or suggestions are totally unwarranted.
– The Government cannot shelter themselves behind their officers.
– The honorable gentleman well knows that unless he is going to allege corruption against the Government in influencing the officers to resort to improper practices–
– So the AttorneyGeneral did. Did he not have the regulations altered ?
– They are acting on an instruction from the Attorney-General.
– Will my honorable friends shoulder the responsibility of saying that the Electoral Officers have instructions from the Government to be guilty of some corrupt practices in connexion with the making up of the rolls? If they make that charge, they must necessarily also agree to the proposition that the officers themselves are yielding to the improper representations of the Government.
– Why should the objections be limited to only Labour supporters ?
– I ask my honorable friend how he can make the Government responsible for a circular issued by some league 1
– What do you say in regard to that circular ?
– I say there is nothing wrong with the circular. It merely says that if there are any Labour supporters on the roll who are not qualified they should be removed.
– Do you think it right to limit the removals to Labour supporters?
– Certainly not. Every unqualified man whose name is on the roll should certainly have his name removed. Does the honorable member say that a Labour supporter who is without qualifications should not be removed from the roll?
– Both Liberal and Labour supporters who are unqualified should be removed.
– If the honorable member agrees to that, he can find no objection to the circular which has been issued. These charges which have been made mean, not only a vote of want of confidence in the electoral officers, but an attack against their honour and integrity.
– Nothing of the sort.
– Honorable members opposite called the officers bitter partisans.
– No man can be removed from the roll except by the officers, and, therefore, if the officers are honorably doing their duty - and several honorable members on the opposite side have interjected that they are honest, and are doing their duty - where is the room for all this fuss and sham indignation ?
– I do not say that they are doing their duty. I say they are being misdirected by the Government.
– As a lawyer, my honorable friend should know better than that.
– He has chargeda man with perjury to-day.
– The honorable member for Ballarat commenced by charging the Government with having made a regulation which had for its object a breach of the law.
– An intimation.
– The honorable member said a regulation.
– No, somebody interjected that it was a regulation.
– Such a regulation could not be made. At first, the honorable member said that it was a regulation; that was watered down to an instruction, and, ultimately, to an intimation by the Government that the law should be disobeyed. There was nothing in the statement of the Attorney-General which allowed of any possibility of such a construction being honestly placed upon it.
– Rubbish !
– I challenge the honorable member for Kennedy to prove what he says.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I think the Government are responsible for the position created in connexion with the rolls, by reason of the statement made by the Attorney-General when introducing his Electoral Amendment Bill of 1913. On that occasion he publicly invited members of political organizations to lodge objections to names on the roll. My complaint is not against the Electoral Registrars, because these political organizations have lodged so many objections that the Divisional Returning Officer for the district has not the time at his disposal to make the necessary inquiries.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
Electoral Rolls : Objections : Supplementary Roll - Cadets : Drill Regulations - Small-pox in New South Wales : Vaccination - Northern Territory Administration - Appointments by the Labour Government - Dissolution : The Constitution - Small Arms Factory - Manufacture in Australia of Defence Material - Army and Navy Instructional Staffs - Navy Department : Wireless Telegraphy - The Senate : Amendments to Address-in-Reply - General Election: Mr. E. Wilson Dobbs - Constitution Alteration Bills : Meat Trust - The Tariff - Gladstone Post Office - Finance : Commonwealth Bank: Rural Credits - Initiative and Referendum - Labour Administration - Labour Party and Tobacco Trust - Liberal Administration.
InCommitte of Supply:
Consideration resumed from 19th June (vide page 2404), on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That a sum not exceeding £3,060,026 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1915.
.- I will continue the remarks I had commenced on the motion for the adjournment, and I will repeat my statement that the Attorney-General, by the statement which he made on the floor of the House when introducing his Electoral Amendment Bill of 1913, was responsible forthe position which has arisen in connexion with the rolls. The honorable member for Illawarra, when speaking the other day, drew the attention of the Committee to thefact that 1484 names had been objected to in the Riverina electorate by a gentleman of the name of Archdale Parkhill, who was not an elector of that particular constituency. That seemed a rather remarkable statement, but the representative of that district, when speaking on the same afternoon, admitted the correctness of the figures submitted by the honorable member for Illawarra, and made the further remarkable admission that for the first time in the history of the Libera] movement the whole of that electorate had been canvassed, and as a result those 1484 names had been sent in to the Returning Officer by Mr. Parkhill.
– Who is Parkhill ?
– He is one of the official organizers for the Liberal party in New South Wales. The AttorneyGeneral’s statement when introducing his Electoral Bill in 1913 is responsible for the large number of objections which have been lodged. I received a letter to-day from Tocumwal, a place in the Riverina district, and portion of it reads -
In this subdivision - Berringa - there are nearly 400 Labour voters struck off the roll. One family in particular were all objected to, with the exception of the father, who is a Liberal; the mother, two sons, and daughterinlaw, who are Labour voters, being objected to.
Here comes the strong point of the letter -
The Registrar for this district will be able to prove the accuracy of my statements.
The Registrar for the district will be able to testify to the fact that these people have been improperly objected to. That is the form of canvass which the honorable member for Riverina has admitted to have been carried on in his electorate. What has been done in Riverina has been done in almost every electorate throughout Australia. Paid canvassers have been sent through the electorates, not to assist persons entitled to enrolment to have their names placed on the rolls, but to lodge objections. If the objections had been confined to the names of persons not entitled to enrolment, neither I nor any other member would have any fault to find with them. We have no objection to the erasure of any name wrongly on the roll ; but what has been done has been to object to thousands of names which are rightly on the roll, those lodging the objections knowing the names to be rightly enrolled.
– Did Archdale Parkhill lodge £274 with his objections 1
– He did not lodge one penny. Prior to the 1913 election, the Labour party assisted, as far as lay in its power, to obtain the enrolment of persons entitled to vote, and it is doing so on this occasion. Notwithstanding tie great organization with which our opponents credit us, not one objection has been sent by us to any Registrar in Victoria. But the Liberal party has taken full advantage of the advice of the AttorneyGeneral to assist the Government in purging the rolls, and has objected to thousands of names which are rightly enrolled. In the case to which I have just drawn attention, there was no possibility of a mistake. The objections were lodged by a paid organizer of the Liberal party in New South Wales, the name of the father, who is a Liberal, not being objected to, and. the names of the mother and other members of the family being objected to. What was done in that case has been done in thousands of other cases. I believe that the Registrars are doing all in their power to cope with the situation; but an immense amount of work is being forced on them by the lodging of objections by irresponsible persons at the invitation of the Government. The protest of honorable members against what is happening is justified, and so is the criticism that has been levelled against the Attorney-General for inviting irresponsible persons to take on themselves the business of cleansing the rolls, which has led to thousands of names being wrongly objected to.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will take notice of what has been said by members of the Opposition this afternoon. We would not bring these matters under the notice of the House were it not that hundreds of electors in each division are complaining of being harassed. This morning I received information that about 500 names in the Coburg subdivision of Maribyrnong had been objected to; but, on inquiry, I found that the officials were satisfied that more than 200 of these names should not have been objected to.
– Had claim-cards been sent in containing these names?
– Yes ; and the names were properly on the roll. Yet those who are thus properly enrolled are harassed by receiving notice that their enrolment is objected to. The greater number of the names whose enrolment is objected to are those of Labour supporters. Every person in the community, of twenty-one years of age or over, is qualified for enrolment, whatever his or her political opinions, and it should be the concern of every member of Parliament to see that every person qualified for enrolment is given an opportunity to vote. The Prime Minister says that the coming election is to be a real, good, stand-up political fight, and I hope that neither side will have any unfair advantage. It is a serious thing that in one subdivision 200 names have been wrongly objected to.
– The honorable member does not blame the Liberal party for that?
– When the Government announced that it was the correct thing for biased political organizations to take a hand in framing the roll, they inaugurated a set of conditions that will make a clean roll impossible. It is the opinion of the electoral officers from top to bottom that they do not need outside interference, and they would welcome a regulation leaving them untrammelled by the interference of political partisans.
– Are not persons of both sides in politics doing what the honorable member complains of 1
– I do not think so. In any case, what Archdale Parkhill has done, what has been done in Adelaide, and what I have complained of, should not be done. I have had complaints from other subdivisions besides Coburg. Each person whose name is objected to, and is found to be rightly enrolled, should be informed that his name will remain on the roll ; but no intimation of the kind is being sent out. We should not harass citizens who have complied with all the requirements of the Electoral Act. Were a Labour Government in power, the honorable member would be the first to complain if, in a thickly populated subdivision, he found that 200 names had been wrongly objected to.
– The fault is with both sides.
– The Electoral Bill introduced last session provided for the abolition of the 5s. fee which must accompany objections, but the only way in which we can safeguard electors, whatever their political opinions, is to prevent unscrupulous persons from objecting to their enrolment. I intend to act the part of the detective, and to investigate fully the cases to which I have referred, and others. Members on this side are receiving sheaves of letters stating that injustice of all kinds is being done. The honorable member for Kooyong spoke of the total number of electors on the roll, but no member knows what the enrolment for his constituency will be. In Maribyrnong, the supplemental roll will contain something like 7,000 names, and an enormous amount of confusion will be created by the wholesale objections to names. Whenever an elector comes to me within a short time of the election, and there is any doubt about his enrolment, I shall recommend him to fill up a claim card, and to send it in. Neither I nor the elector will have time to make inquiries, and I think it best to make assurance doubly sure.
– That will be a breach of the Act.
– If the honorable member speaks to the Divisional Returning Officer for his division, he will find out that the confusion on the eve of what will be the most important election we have had in Austrafia will be very great, and that this will result from the cue given by the Attorney-General and others. “Do as I do, boys. Take the time from me,’’ is what he said last year, and the various Liberal Associations have been doing it ever since. The confusion to which I refer will be the consequence. I am thankful that the curtain has been lifted, and 1 shall not be surprised if, all over Australia, indignation meetings are held, denouncing the Government for trying to cheat the electors out of their franchise rights.
– Is the honorable member in order in stating that honorable members on this side of the House are endeavouring to “cheat” the electors ?
– Of course, it is out of order for any honorable member to attribute to any other honorable member the possibility of cheating.
– I am certain that my remark was not offensive in any way. I was speaking in a general sense when I said that, if actions of this character were to be allowed, thousands of electors would be cheated out of their votes, and that the responsibility would lie with the Government.
– My point of order is that the honorable member charged this side of the House with cheating under the Electoral Act, and I submit that the charge should be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong has explained that he used the word “ cheating “ in a very general sense. I am not sure that the word was very well chosen, but, under the circumstances, I presume I must allow it to pass.
– If the honorable member for New England is so susceptible, I shall say that, at any rate, I did not apply the term to him. To show the sort of thing that goes on under the Electoral Act, I should like to read the following letter, which was written by my correspondent on behalf of a neighbour -
I would like to inform you that a neighbour of mine has had a notice of objection served upon him. and his wife to their names being retained on the electoral roll for NorthFootscray subdivision of Maribyrnong division.
The objection is that they do not live in the division, and have not so lived for at least one month.
Let me say that it is false, as I can say that they have lived there for this last year and ten months, and have never left the street in which they now live. They live only two doors from rue, and I know for a fact that the objection is false. Mr. Harry Rawson, the person objected to, and his wife are going to write to the Divisional Returning Officer and claim enrolment.
– What harm could be done ? These people would simply have to write back and say that they were still residing there.
– The honorable member knows that, even in ordinary times, when there is no political excitement, the delivery of official notices is, in many cases, somewhat disturbing. The police, when simply collecting the names, sometimes cause a little alarm in quiet households.
– The people would open the notice and read it?
– Of course; but I do not see why residents, who may have been in the one place for as long as twenty years, should have notices of this kind served on them, apparently without any previous investigation. All these cases show that there is something very defective in the administration. For instance, in Coburg a total of 500 names were objected to, but, fortunately, some inquiry was made, and it was found that over 200 were properly qualified to remain on the roll. The responsibility for this is largely due to the announcement of the Attorney-General last year. In the Bill that was introduced by the Honorary Minister - and introduced in a fashion that, I am sure, was not relished by his own side - there was a clause, which, had it been carried, would have abolished the- deposit of 5s. in the case of the lodging of an objection; and what the Government could not do by Act of Parliament, and what they are not doing even by regulation or on direct instruction, they are doing in another way by inviting wholesale objections. We are on the eve of an election; and I hope that the people will have a mind to those who are endeavouring to deprive them of the franchise.
I should now like to refer to the com pulsory training branch of our Defence administration. I have received the following letter : -
Maribyrnong, 20th June, 1914. mr. Fenton,
Dear Sir, - Having read in the Argus where you asked the Acting Minister of Defence (Mr. Kelly) to inquire into the case of a cadet who was sentenced at the Essendon Police Court to imprisonment for having failed to return to drill when he had been sent home to get his uniform. The cadet in this case is my son, Charles Alfred Spong, and 1 would like you to know the particulars of the case.
My son applied for leave of absence from parade on the 14th March, 1914, which yon will see by the form enclosed was granted. By missing that parade made him two hours short in his time. Tuesday, the 9th inst., being a voluntary drill, he went to make his time good. Owing to it being late, and having over 2 miles to walk, ho went to parade in his private clothes. The officer in charge sent him home to put on his uniform, and return. When he arrived he informed me the reason of being sent home.He also told me he was suffering pain from rheumatics. It was then about 9 p.m. Being a voluntary drill, under the circumstances I told him to go to bed, not knowing that it would be considered an offence. The drill instructor has allowed him to stand out from the ranks on three occasions on account of his suffering, and as late as Saturday, the 13th inst., he had to allow him to stand out. I may also state, on the day he appeared at Court, he was one hour in advance in his drill. Inclosed you will find letter from Dr. Flanagan, who has attendedmy son.
The reason my son had to go to Essendon to drill was, he was attending St. Thomas’ Grammar School. He had to make that time good before he could get his clearance to Ascot Vale Company.
Thanking you for the interest you have taken,
The following is the medical certificate : -
Moonee Ponds, 13.614.
Five years ago I attended Charles Spong, suffering from a severe attack of rheumatism. Since then he has been subject to mild attacks, which, at times, render him unable to take much exercise, owing to pain in his right ankle joint, caused by the exertion.
The father of this boy I know personally as a man who would not permit his son to shirk any duty, but would always insist on his doing the correct thing. Such officers as the one referred to are doing more than any one else to break up our system of defence; and they would be all the better for a little seasoning of common sense. This lad was brought up at a Police Court at Essendon, and not even fined, but sentenced to a term of detention for disobeying orders. The same sort of thing is occurring elsewhere, though, of course, there are some officers who carry out their duties efficiently and with discretion. There are boys who respect their instructors, and love the work; but, on the other hand, some of the instructors by their conduct simply give rise to a rebellious spirit. I know very well that, if I were a boy and saw a comrade badly treated, as some of these lads are, I should feel considerable resentment, and, doubtless, would take his part. I hope that when these facts are known, the authorities will make some investigation with a view to putting these officers in their proper place. If this particular officer acted deliberately, with full knowledge, he is certainly not fitted for his present position.
– Last Friday, the honorable member for Newcastle brought under my notice some facts into which I promised to inquire, and to make some reply concerning them to-day. The honorable member said that, at the time of the outbreak of small-pox in New South Wales action was taken by the State authority, and by the Federal authority, to establish vaccination depots at various places. In that, the honorable member was speaking under a misapprehension, because the Commonwealth never established any vaccination depots.
– I have not yet seen the proof of my speech, and, in any case, it is only a verbal misstatement.
– Any depots that were established were established solely by the States. The honorable member also referred to the system of isolation, and I have to point out that, during the particular outbreak referred to, the Commonwealth did not interfere in regard to any management within the States. The question nf how the disease should be stamped out in New South Wales itself was left entirely to the State authority. Isolation is a matter over which the Commonwealth has no control ; we could insist only on Inter-State travellers from within a radius of 15 miles from Sydney being vaccinated. I have now to refer to the statement of the gentleman who complained about the results of his vaccination. This gentleman called upon the Director of Quarantine, and I have from that officer a statement, in which he says -
The statement made by myself to Mr.— was not as stated, “ That no injurious results followed.” What was said was that, though come cases were reported in which, after vaccination, undesirable manifestations had occurred, yet, as many thousands had been vaccinated with the same lymph without any unsatisfactory results, it was clear that some factor other than the lymph was involved
The effect of vaccination depends upon several factors. The condition of the patient at the time of vaccination. The method of performing the operation. The circumstances under which the operation is performed. The treatment of the arm after vaccination had been done; as well as the quality of the lymph. At times of panic vaccination, such as obtained in Sydney and Melbourne last year, persons- are vaccinated when in a condition of lowered vitality, who would at other times defer being vaccinated until a more suitable occasion, and many of the severe reactions were due to this cause.
The method of preparation of the lymph did not differ during last year from that employed before and since, and this same lymph has been used for years in connexion with the quarantining of ships, without any undesirable result.
The honorable member will remember the circumstances. The Commonwealth establishment in Victoria was for the purpose of meeting the necessities in regard to cases coming from overseas. But with a view to meeting the necessities that arose within the States, every effort was made to give a full and complete supply of lymph for the whole of Australia, and the establishment worked at high pressure, extra nurses and assistants being appointed, in order to expedite the production. The gentleman to whom the honorable member has referred also made a complaint to the State authorities in New South Wales before the Commonwealth was approached on the matter. It is all set out on the files, and, among other things, for instance, this gentleman said that, as a result of vaccination, he had a headache within two hours of the operation. As this gentleman admits, Dr. Paton dismissed the fact of a violent headache two hours subsequent to vaccination as being in any way associated with vaccination. In his opinion, five days would have to elapse before the lymph would have any effect. The State authorities referred the whole of the complaints to Dr. Dick, the Medical Officer for Health, Hunter River combined districts, who reported on the 13th September last -
My knowledge of this case consists in the fact that Mr.- called to see me some weeks ago (I have no note of the date) to show me his hands. At the time of my seeing them they were practically quite well, except that the surface skin was tender. It appeared as if there had been a form of vesicular or bullous eruption on the hands, with consequent loss of the scarf skin.
If, as appears from the attached letter, the eruption came out about ten days after vaccination, it is the only instance of the kind that has come to my knowledge in this district.
This does not substantiate the statements which this gentleman makes that large numbers of persons suffered in a similar way in the Newcastle district.
– He gave me the names and addresses of several.
– If the honorable member gives me those names and addresses, or any additional information, I shall be only too pleased to cause further inquiries to be made. I referred the matter to the Director of Quarantine, who reports -
It appears to be impossible to accurately trace the lymph with which Mr.- was vaccinated. The date of vaccination, 17th July, renders it probable that the lymph was prepared and issued immediately prior to that date. If so, it was used on several thousand people without any ill effect. Mr.made some statements indicating that the lymph had been re-bottled after leaving here; but, on being questioned, and shown samples of the bottles used, he was not quite sure. The only positive fact is that the lymph prepared at the same time was used widely without ill effects.
In my opinion, the probable explanation of the severe reaction from which Mr.suffered is that his general constitutional resistance was, for some reason, lower than the normal, and the reaction correspondingly severe.
Over 500,000 people were vaccinated, and probably about 1,000,000 in Australia as a whole. When the Department is working under high pressure it is quite possible that in isolated cases there may be some suffering, but, so far as we can ascertain, there has been nothing in any way due to the nature of the lymph supplied. The utmost care was taken in its preparation so far as the Central Department was concerned. I would like to make this statement as regards the effect of vaccination -
The value of recent vaccination in protecting against small-pox was again thoroughly demonstrated, as it will continue to be demonstrated whenever small-pox is encountered. Among 261 persons employed at the quarantine station and in daily contact with persons, none contracted the disease, and although it is estimated that more than 500,000 people were vaccinated in Sydney between July and September, 1913, not one of these contracted smallpox, and, finally, of those who did contract small-pox,89.5 per cent. had never been successfully vaccinated, 5.4 per cent. were successfully vaccinated within the incubation period, and 5.1 per cent. had been successfully vaccinated prior to infection. But in no individual instance had the successful vaccination been performed less than thirteen years previously.
That emphasizes the value of vaccination as a means of preventing the spread of small-pox.
.- Notwithstanding the statements made by the Minister, the fact remains that there is considerable doubt in Newcastle, as well as in Sydney, as to the efficacy of vaccination, and as to whether it does not produce worse effects than small-pox itself. Does not the Minister think it advisable to have the whole thing inquired into, in order to see whether vaccination should be continued, and whether the quality of the lymph is good - whether it is prepared properly, and so forth? Such an inquiry should he held if only to re-establish the confidence of the people with regard to vaccination generally. If vaccination is right, the people should be vaccinated; but, while doubt remains, they will not be vaccinated. Small-pox, though not so bad as it was, still reigns in Sydney. If there was one individual in Australia that one would say was not below normal when he was vaccinated, it was the individual to whom I referred. There was no man more robust and healthy looking.
– According to appearances ?
– According to physical and mental work that he was doing at the time. He was an enthusiast in regard to vaccination. He was head of a large staff which he invited to get vaccinated, and sixty of those who were vaccinated had to take to their beds through being infected in one way or another as a result of the vaccination. Of course people are diffident about giving information when they become marked, but I shall get their permission to present these cases if the Minister will say that he will have an investigation into them.
– There will be an inquiry into each individual case.
– Then, why was there no inquiry into the case I have already placed before the Minister?
– It was inquired into. The papers were referred to Dr. Dick.
– That was appealing fromCaesar toCaesar. The statement is that the lymph was at fault, and that he had to consult the people who supplied it.
– He has not sent on the reports of those medical men. I should be glad to see them.
– If he does so, will the Minister grant an inquiry ?
– I will have inquiries made. I will ask the Comptroller to look into the whole matter.
– That again is askingCaesar to inquire into Caesar’s actions.
– The Director of Quarantine is naturally concerned in seeing that everything is carried out properly. You are not making a personal charge against him?
– Not as an individual.
– If there is any complaint, he is naturally desirous of remedying it.
– The whole point is whether vaccination does what it was intended for.
– Do you mean vaccination per se?
– Yes. Why not have an inquiry into vaccination, an independent inquiry, and not a departmental inquiry? Have an inquiry into the case of these sixty employes in one firm having to take to their beds. Surely they were notbelow the normal point in regard to health. I have lists of people who were disfigured. We know that in Sydney all sorts of ailments occurred. Some people died, some became blind, and others were disfigured in other directions, yet we cannot get an inquiry into whether it is better to suffer small-pox than to be vaccinated. Something should be done, if only to restore confidence in regard to vaccination, and people obeying the will of the Department in this regard. If the Minister will say that he will have a departmental inquiry into each case that I can hand to him, I shall, first of all, proceed on those lines. I can give the Minister a number of cases where worse results have been shown by vaccination than would have happened had the people suffered from small-pox.
.- I was pleased to learn last week that the Minister of External Affairs had prepared a memorandum setting forth the policy of the Government with regard to the Northern Territory. In enunciating the policy of the Liberal party at the last general election the right honorable member for Parramatta advocated the vigorous development of the Territory; but although his party have been in office for twelve months we have had from them very little in that direction. I suppose we should be pleased that we have at last obtained something, even if it is only a memorandum as to what the Government hope to do. The Government cannot complain that in their efforts to develop the Territory they have been obstructed by the Opposition. It is not necessary for them to pass a Bill dealing with any particular enterprise there. The Minister, by Ordinance, may do what he desires and whilst it is true that every Ordinance must be submitted to Parliament, and may be disallowed by either House, the fact remains that during their term of office the Government have not brought down one for our consideration. The right honorable member for Parramatta, who in the last Parliament vigorously denounced my action as Minister of External Affairs in dealing with the lands of the Northern Territory by Ordinance, instead of introducing a comprehensive Land Bill, has been in office for twelve months, but has not yet introduced such a measure.
– Had we introduced a Land Bill, the Opposition would not have given us much chance of putting it through.
– That is quite another question. The point that I wish to emphasize is that the Government have not even given us an opportunity to deal with such a measure. I promised that if we were returned to office last year a Northern Territory Land Bill would be one of the first measures to be introduced by us.
– I have a Bill practically ready. It takes some months to prepare’ such a measure.
– I realize that, but we were denounced by the present Prime Minister for not coming down to the House with a Land Bill.
– I thought that the honorable member was denounced for failing to draft a Bill.
– The Labour Government were denounced for their failure to introduce a Northern Territory Land Bill, although we had less time to devote to the preparation of such a measure than the present Government have had. We recognised that some criticism might fairly be applied to any delay in dealing with the lands of the Northern Territory by Ant of Parliament rather than by Ordinance, and we wish to know now why the present Administration have done nothing in that direction. I approve nf the statement contained in the Ministerial memorandum, that it is necessary to develop mining in the Territory, but at present mining operations there are being carried on under an obsolete Act passed by the South Australian Parliament.
– I have gone through all that legislation, and have classified it.
– But we should have had an opportunity to pass a Mining Bill.
– The honorable member would have taken a month or two to consider it.
– Surely such a measure is of more importance than the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, which the Government elected to submit in order to bring about a double dissolution.
– Both the Bills mentioned by the honorable member have been prepared.
– But neither has been brought before the House. I am in debted to the newspapers for a summary of the Minister’s memorandum, since it has not yet been distributed amongst honorable members.
– It will be ready in a day or two.
– It may be that Parliament will be dissolved before we see it. I do not think that the Minister of External Affairs can say that he has been unduly worried by the Opposition, and I certainly think that his memorandum should be available to us. It may be that the honorable gentleman’s time has been largely taken up in dealing with the Marconi litigation, which should In ve been attended to by the AttorneyGeneral.
– I think that I can show a comparatively good record of work.
– But the honorable gentleman will admit that we ought to have had his memorandum before now. In that memorandum, I understand the Government have pledged themselves to a policy of railway construction in the Northern Territory involving an expenditure of about £10,000,000. I agree with those who say that the Territory can be developed only by means of a vigorous railway construction policy; but I should like to know whether the Minister feels that he has yet obtained the most complete information as to the routes that should be followed. I regret that the Committee of experts which was appointed by me to investigate the question of railway routes in the Northern Territory should have been disbanded by the present Government before it had completed its inquiries. Its report, I understand, was laid on the table of the House this afternoon, but I have not yet had an opportunity to read it. Even the AttorneyGeneral will not accuse me of having fol- lowed the policy of spoils to the victors in appointing that Committee. I do not think that any member of it was a very strong Labour supporter. I have heard that one member “ jumped for joy “ when he learned of our defeat; but no one will say that the Committee was not well qualified to do the work required of it. If the Government are satisfied that they have all the information necessary to guide them in entering upon a railway construction policy involving an expenditure of £10,000,000, well and good; but I venture to think that, before such aD expenditure is authorized, Parliament. will desire more information than has, so far, been forthcoming.
– Part of the country beyond Alice Springs has not been surveyed, but the work is now being carried out.
– The Minister has practically decided what route shall be followed from Oodnadatta to the Katherine River.
– Not yet.
– Only as far as Alice Springs ?
– We have decided as to part of the way, but the rest of the country to be traversed is now being surveyed.
– I learn, also, from the newspapers’ summary of the Minister’s memorandum that the policy of the Government is that an increased rental shall be demanded in respect of any lease that is benefited by a railway passing through it.
– We shall endeavour to get more.
– I understand that the proposal of the Government is that where an added value is given to lands held under lease by the passing of a railway through them an increased rental shall be charged. To that I have no objection, but I think the Government should go further. Land in any centre of population, the value* of which is enhanced by the construction of a railway, should be taxed, just as much as is a leasehold through which the line actually passes. We are told that the Government propose to build these railway lines by contract. I regret that decision. If the present Government purpose handing over the construction of any of these railways to the contractor, that is the strongest possible condemnation of themselves. I have said in this House, and I say again, that I do not believe that contract is anathema, nor do I make a fetish of day labour.
– We are building 54 miles of the railway by day labour.
– It is not handed over to the contractor for that 54 miles?
– It is practically all on day labour?
– There is no pedantry about the Government policy; we do that which we consider best in the circumstances of each case.
– But the Government speak of handing over big sections of the railway to the contractor.
– Only so far as may be expedient.
– Whilst I do not make a fetish of day labour, or say. that contract is anathema, I do think that each particular work should be settled on its merits.
– That is exactly what we are doing.
– If any large portions of the railway are handed over to the contractor, that must be a condemnation of the Government who do that. The respective advantages of day labour and contract are merely a question of management. If a Labour party were in office, and the Minister of External Affairs and his party were in Opposition, I could understand that the honorable member would object to doing anything by day labour, because he might be prepared to say that Labour Ministers are not good administrators, that we are not qualified to appoint foremen, that we would allow the men to use the government stroke, and that we would be too lenient with them. But surely the honorable members who are now in the Government would not say that of themselves ? They, as heaven born administrators, would be able to carry out the construction of a railway equally as well as a contractor. They have in their own hands the appointment of officials, because I understand that in the’ Northern Territory no officials have been brought under the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
– Not yet.
– Therefore, there is no difficulty in dismissing any officials. The honorable gentleman can appoint whom he chooses and dismiss whom he chooses. I admit that under the Commonwealth Public Service Act there are difficulties in dealing with officers, particularly in dispensing with the services of an officer, even if he is not competent, but that does not apply to the Northern Territory or to any railways which the Government are called upon to build. Therefore, seeing that the present Government are in charge of the construction of those railways, it seems to me that they can only hand them over to the contractor for one of two reasons. The first would be that they are in favour of the contractor. The contractor is generally a Liberal, and he might be prepared to give something to the funds of the Liberal organization.
– You do not say that, surely.
– Of course, we must not say that, but the Attorney-General may say that we corrupt the Public Service by giving work to unionists, that we give work to them because we get their political support, and that we are bringing Tammany Hall tactics into the country when we employ unionists.
– In connexion with the only two railways I have sanctioned lately, the contract system has not been adopted. Those are the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway and the Papuan railway.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so. I was pointing out that there could be only two reasons for handing work over to the contractor. In the first place, the Government would do it, because they were agreeable to do something for the contractor. The second reason would be that the Government were of opinion that the contractor could do the work more cheaply and expeditiously, and better for the community. If that could be demonstrated to be a fact, I think that both sides of the House should be prepared, in those circumstances, to hand the work over to the contractor. But if we were to do it for that reason, it seems to me that such an admission would be a reflection upon the Government, because it would suggest that they were not able to appoint competent foremen. In my experience of Departments, I have found that the officials, as a rule, are rather anxious to give work to the contractor. I believe that one reason is that there is less bother for the Department if the work is handed over to the contractor instead of being done departmentally, because the contractor has a lot of the worry which the Department, or the Minister, would otherwise get. I take it, however, that it is the business of neither the Minister nor the Department to shirk responsibility in that way. I am sorry that the Government have said in their memorandum that they are prepared to hand the freezing works over to private enterprise.
-Not to hand them over; to get them constructed.
– Who is going to control the works after they are constructed?
– We are going to control them. If you will look into the matter you will see that you have made a mistake.
– I am prepared to admit that we are arguing somewhat in the dark, because we have not had an opportunity of seeing the arrangement into which the Minister has entered with the English company. Do I understand from the Minister that all the Government intend to do is to have the works constructed by these private people, and then to run them afterwards as a State concern ?
– It would be a poor Government who would propose to run these works.
– Then the Government propose to hand over the works to a private company?
– We cannot hand over something we have not got.
– Why does the Minister quibble over my question ? There are two alternative policies: One is for the Government to erect ‘the works and control them after the buildings are completed, and the other is for private enterprise to erect the buildings and control the works afterwards. Apparently the latter course is what the Government propose to adopt. If that is so, are those capitalists undertaking this enterprise out of a spirit of philanthropy, or in furtherance of their own interests? I take it that they are willing to build and control these works because they believe they can make a profit out of the enterprise. Then, why should not the Government put up the freezing works, and run them, just as they run a post-office, or a navy, or an army?
– Are all the existing public Departments satisfactory?
– They are, in comparison with private enterprize. Take, for instance, the Post Office. Let the honorable member have some dealings with private companies, and he will find that he has more bother with them than with the Government Post Office. If that were not so, why does not the honorable member propose to hand over the post-offices to private enterprise? We read only recently that in America, the great home of private enterprise, the PostmasterGeneral has been advocating that the telephones and telegraphs, which are in the hands of private enterprise, should be purchased and controlled by the Government. Why does he advocate that policy if these services can be run better by private enterprise? In England, the telegraphs for many years were in the hands of private companies, whilst those in other parts of Europe were under Government control. Why was it that (lie business people waited on Mr. Gladstone and asked that the Government should take over the control of the telegraphs, at a time when there was no Labour party to advocate State control of such services?
– The same company as you are referring to in connexion with the freezing works has 10,000,000 acres in the Northern Territory under pastoral occupation.
– I have already said that we are rather in the dark through not having had an opportunity of seeing what arrangements have actually been entered into. But, whatever the arrangements are, it does seem an unfortunate thing that the Government should be prepared to in any way hand these freezing works over to private enterprise.
– There is no handing over about it. They are entitled to put works up, and we have arranged with them not to pub them up except under certain terms agreed to by us.
– If the Government were prepared to put up these works, private enterprise would not come in.
– These works will not cost us a penny.
– They will cost the people of the Northern Territory a lot of money.
– No, they will not.
– Then we must assume that the capitalists are undertaking this enterprise in a spirit of philanthropy. The memorandum shows that the Government are prepared to erect a dairy factory. Why ? Because there is no profit in this dairy factory; there are only a few people in the district, and it would not pay for private enterprise to run the factory, or even for the people to run it co-operatively. I am glad that the Government are stepping in, and I will be willing to support them in establishing a dairy factory there. But what is the difference between establishing and running a dairy factory and establishing and running freezing works? One is to cost £10,000, and the other £80,000, I understand.
– The capital expenditure on the farms is nearly £30,000 already, and it is my duty not to wantonly pitch that money into the sea.
– I quite agree with the action of the Government. They are prepared to put up a dairy factory at the expense of the Commonwealth, and run it as a Socialistic concern. I agree with their action, and I am supporting them. My regret is that they have not the courage to erect the freezing works. A £10,000 concern seems to be about the capacity of the present Government.
– Or £10,000,000 on railways.
– If the principle is good in one thing, I cannot see why it should not be good in another. I notice in the memorandum that the Government’s policy is to grant freeholds. That, I take it, cannot be done until an Act of Parliament has been passed, because the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill provided for the leasehold principle. I am rather surprised that the Prime Minister, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Attorney-General should all be in a Government who are prepared to adopt ‘ a policy of freeholds, in view of their advocacy of a different system in times past. This freehold is to have restrictions placed upon it. No man is to be allowed to hold more than 2,500 acres. But surely if the freehold system is a good one, it should be unrestricted. I hope to have another opportunity of dealing with this matter more fully. It is a pity that the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Affairs have altered their views regarding the leasehold system.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
– Can this motion be passed by a simple majority?
– Yes. Notice of it has been given.
– In the name of the Prime Minister?
– Any Minister who happens to he in charge of the business of the House may move it for the Prime Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 191.5, a sum not exceeding £3,060,026 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
.- There is a matter of substantial grievance on the part of the public of this country in regard to the administration of the Electoral Department with which I desire to deal. The adjournment of the House was formally moved this afternoon to bring certain matters under the notice of the Government, but most of the time allowed by the Standing Orders for its discussion was occupied by Government supporters, and honorable members on this side had not an opportunity to fully state their case -
– The honorable member is out of order in making a statement of that kind. It must be withdrawn.
– If you, sir, say that the words are unparliamentary, under the Standing Orders I am compelled to withdraw them.
– You must withdraw them even if they are true.
– No matter how true they are, I must withdraw them.
– The honorable member must withdraw them without qualification.
– I withdraw them without qualification.
– The honorable member suggested that he had to withdraw them, even though they might happen to be true. There is a qualification there that is not in order.
– I withdraw the words without qualification. I thought that I was entitled to point out that it was under the Standing Orders that certain expressions are not parliamentary and cannot be used, even though they are true.
– The honorable member is qualifying again. His statements must be withdrawn without any qualification whatever.
– Then, in deference toyour ruling, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw the words complained of. I should like to have time to search the dictionary for words which would comply with the Standing Orders and would describe the administration or maladministration of the Electoral Act by this Government. Their conduct will have the effect of depriving tens of thousands of electors of the opportunity to record their votes at the coming election. The electoral machinery which should enable a true reflex of the opinions of this country to be registered at the poll is being used to prevent the proper expression of the opinions of the people.
The roll has been printed in an imperfect condition, and the roll which is now being printed will not give a true indication of the persons whose names were entitled to be enrolled at the date it was printed. There is a considerable amount of information in the hands of the Electoral Department upon which they are acting, but which will not be reflected in the roll now being printed. Consequently when this roll is issued, during the next couple of weeks, tens of thousands of people will be misled into the belief that their names are on the roll, but in the official rolls in the Department and in the official rolls used in the booths, those names will be struck off, and the people will not become aware of the fact until they actually go into the polling booth on polling day, when it will be too late for them to do anything. The rolls have been sent to the printer in the middle of preparation. There has been no occasion in the history of the Federal Parliament, except in this case, where a roll has been printed and issued from which there have not been omitted the names of all those against whom information has been obtained as to their lack of qualification, and in which the roll has not been brought right up to date.
– There were 3,000 names struck off in my electorate last time, after the rolls were printed, and no list was provided either.
– In no other case has a roll been printed from which there have not been omitted the whole of the names which the Department intend to take off at the time it is printed. The statement of the Treasurer does not affect the point. Information may come to hand after the roll is printed, but in this case the rolls are being printed, and there are tens of thousands of names which the Department, at the time of printing, intend to strike off, but which are not struck off. People will be under the impression that as their names are on the roll they will be able to vote. The names appear on the roll, but the people will not be able to vote upon that roll; consequently the roll that is being printed now will mislead tens of .thousands throughout the Commonwealth.
– That is absolutely without foundation.
– I say it is not.
– I ought to know. There has been no refusal on the part of the Treasury to find funds for this purpose.
– Is the honorable member speaking for the last fortnight or month?
– For the whole year.
– Yet it was stated in the press only a few weeks ago that the Prime Minister and the Honorary Minister were engaged in a conference with the Premier of New South Wales quibbling over a few shillings for the cost of sending the police around to see that the rolls were in order. This quibble compelled the work to be hung up for months and months, although the Government knew that an election was coming on, and that the dissolution was right on top of us. The Government then gave way, and there was no time to get the work done. That is an example of what I say. If we could get the officers of the Department to open their mouths, it would be found that they have not a large enough staff to do the work. Take the comparison of the claim cards, for instance, in all the electoral offices of the Commonwealth. It will be found that the permanent staff handling the matter is absolutely inadequate to do the work. This accounts for duplications on the roll. When second cards come in, duplicating the claims for enrolment, it is found that there is not staff enough to compare them with the first, and now that an election is pending the officers have to put on a number of temporary clerks, who have no permanent interest in the Department. Consequently the work cannot be done in the same way as if there was a trained permanent responsible staff handling it.
In that way they are being misled into the belief that they are being put on the Commonwealth rolls, whereas they are only being placed on the State rolls. The Prime Minister to-day handed an official statement to the honorable member for kooyong to read out. This showed that in New South Wales on 31st May, 1913, there were 1,036,187 names on the electoral roll, whereas on 31st May, 1914, the number was 995,128. Although there has been an increase in the population during those twelve months, there are actually over 41,000 fewer names on the rolls in New South Wales than there were twelve months ago. Such a state of things is absolutely scandalous.
– You will get a lot of them on again.
– What have we to do ? We have to go into our electorates and call upon hundreds of people, tramping the streets from door to door, to see that names are put on the roll - work which should be done by the Government - so as to nullify, if we possibly can, the kind of administration by which the Government expect to come back to power in this House. For the whole Commonwealth from 31st May, 1913, to 31st May, 1914, although the honorable member for Kooyong admitted that there has been an increase in the adult population of about 250,000, there are only 9,417 more names on the roll.
– I also said it was expected that large numbers would be on the supplementary roll.
– Expected ! The work of the Government in twelve months has been to get 41,000 people off the rolls in New South Wales. If they go on at that rate there will not be many left at the time the elections arrive.
– How many have been taken off in your electorate ?
– I do not know, but the Returning Officer in my electorate tells me that he is preparing 16,000 notices of objection. The roll was printed last December, and is it likely that in six months practically half the adults in my electorate have left it? I do not say that these objection notices are going out, because the Returning Officer was rather dubious about this large number, and sent the police round a second time.
– That was not by direction of the Government. He did it off his own bat, I suppose.
– Yes. That is exactly what he did. The police, acting under regulations issued by the Government, were sent round the electorates to find reasons for taking people off the rolls, but no matter how many people they have put off the rolls they will do nothing to facilitate their enrolment. I do not blame the police for this. They are only doing what they are directed to do. It is not theirs to reason what the intentions of the Government are.
– Who control the police ?
– They are carrying out the regulations of the CookIrvine Government. Section 67 of the Electoral Act provides -
Any name on the roll may be objected to by objection in writing, lodged with or made by the Returning Officer, provided that a sum of 5s. shall be deposited in respect of each objection lodged by any person other than an officer, to be forfeited to the King if the objection is held by the Returning Officer to be frivolous.
An instance of this came under the notice of the honorable member for Gwydir in the Narrabri district on the occasion of the last State elections. A Liberal organizer objected to 500 names being retained on the roll for that particular district. While the matter was being dealt with in the Appeal Court, a Labour supporter happened to walk in, and demanded proof of the bona fides of the objections. After inquiry into the sixth name on the list, it was apparent that no such proof was forthcoming, and the Liberal organizer was fined. He thereupon abandoned the whole of the remaining objections.
The Attorney-General has indicated a means by which these Liberal organizers can drive a horse and cart through our Electoral Act, although he denied having done so in this House to-day. But if honorable members will refer to Hansard nf 24th September, 1913, page 1445, they will find the following -
– I wish to ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, or the AttorneyGeneral, whether any instruction has gone out to political organizations, asking them to lodge objections against names now on the electoral rolls without having to pay a fee?
– I answer this question, because it arises out of certain public utterances of mine. So far as I know, no instructions whatever have gone out to any political body in connexion with the matter; but there was a general intimation given by me publicly.
Yet we find the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General quibbling to-day, and affirming that no regulation has been printed, and no instruction given.
– Nor has there.
– But there has been an intimation. The honorable member is quibbling with words.
– Read it.
– These honorable gentlemen come here with this quibble in their mouths, because the particular word has not been used to describe what was done. Yet here is the record inHansard.
Colonel Ryrie. - Read on.
– The honorable member wishes me to occupy my time in reading a page of Hansard.
– Too thin !
– Then I shall read the whole of it, and, whether the House is required to sit all night or not, I shall deal with all the questions to which I desire to direct attention. The Hansard report continues -
– To whom?
– It was in a speech at a public gathering. There was a public intimation given byme generally in speaking that the Department and the Government would be prepared to receive objections from whatever source they came, and that if those objections appeared to be bond fide, requiring investigation, the Department would proceed to investigate them in the ordinary way.
– Would that mean that they would not pay the deposit?
– It would be without any 5s. deposit.
Section 67 of the Act provides that if any objection be lodged by any person, other than an officer, the 5s. deposit must be paid. I say that the Government have driven a horse and cart through the provisions of the Act. If they can dispense with the deposit without breaking the law, why is it that in the amending Electoral Bill, which they brought forward last session, they sought to repeal section 67 of the Act? I have before me a copy of the Bill which they introduced in September of last year. Clause 12 of that measure reads -
Section 07 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the words - “ Provided that a sum of5s. shall be deposited in respect of each objection lodged by any person other than an officer, to be forfeited to the King if the objection is held by the Returning Officer to he frivolous.”
They themselves, therefore, proposed to strike out section 67 of the Electoral Act. In the meantime, they have given a general instruction in the Department that that provision is to be disregarded. With what result? Only the other day we had the statement of the honorable member for Riverina in this House that in his own electorate 1,100 names had been objected to by Mr. Archdale Parkhill, the general
Liberal organizer for New South Wales. Does he deny that?
– If it is so, I am surprised, but what did the honorable member say?
– I only want the public to know from Hansard that the honorable member was present when I made the statement, and that he could not give it a denial. He admitted, on the 19th June, in this House, as reported in Hansard, page 2392, that a large number of objections had been lodged by the general secretary of the Liberal Association - Mr. Archdale Parkhill - to names on the roll for his own electorate.
– And furnished by the local organization.
– And in no case was the 5s., which is prescribed by section 67 of the Act, lodged.
– It is not so prescribed, and the honorable member knows it.
– The public who read my remarks can judge for themselves.
– The names were objected to before the last election.
– I am referring to admissions of the honorable member as to objections since the last elections - preparations for the coming contest. The Government profess to desire some evidence of what is going on in connexion with the rolls. I propose to give them a little evidence from their own supporters. I intend to give them the testimony of the Speaker of this House. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 15th June of the present year, he is reported to have said -
He was informed, however, that names of persons who had left the district permanently for a long time past were still on, and many who should be on were not enrolled. In this connexion a curious thing had come under his own notice. He was shown on an official form a long list of names of persons in his own subdivision who were supposed to have removed elsewhere. A casual glance showed him that several of his friends and supporters were among them, not one of whom had removed from the place of residence for which he was enrolled. And, to his further astonishment, he discovered the names of himself and family were included. In his own case, being member for the district, even had he not been residing therein, he was entitled, under the Electoral Act, to be enrolled for the subdivision, instead of elsewhere. He thought it a pity that the State and Federal Electoral Acts were not more in unison in connexion with the matter of enrolment. People got greatly confused, believing that the police collection of the State roll insured their being entered on the Federal rolls.
The Government ask whether names are being taken off the rolls which have no right to be removed, and I have given them the evidence of a friend of the Government. For one instance of the names of Liberals being removed, there are tens of thousands of instances of the names of Labour supporters. The Sydney Sun, which is not by any means a Labour paper, but is owned and controlled by supporters of the Liberal party, said in an editorial on the 13th June -
The Federal Electoral Department has furnished a great achievement. It suddenly discovered that a big section of the adult population on the railway side of Bullanaming-street, Redfern, have been resident in the locality less than a month, whereas the fact of the matter is that some of the persons concerned have been living in the same houses for periods up to twenty-five years. . . . As a means of finding out to what extent notices of objection had been circulated by the Department, a representative of this paper made five casual calls at houses in Bullanaming-street yesterday afternoon. Mrs. White, of No. 34, said : - “Both myself and husband were served with notices. Our names are on the roll, andwe have been living in this house for twenty-five years.” Mrs. Dorey, of No. 52, said : - “ Six members of the family are on the roll. We were also presented with notices. I have been living in this house for twenty-five years.” Notices, it was stated, were also served at Nos. 36 and 44, although the occupants had been living there five and seven years respectively. The other persons spoken to had only been in the locality a few weeks.
This is a place in which all the people are Labour supporters, and to the facts we have the testimony of a Liberal newspaper.
– “Who did it?
– The right honorable gentleman’s Government did it, and are doing it now.
– What have we to do with it?
– The Government are administering the Electoral Branch, and insisting on the observation of regulations which have this effect. The work in connexion with the printing of the rolls, on which it is proposed to make an appeal to the peoplealmost immediately, is in a state of muddle and chaos that would be a reflection on a child. Of course, if all this is deliberately done, it in another matter; we can hardly believe that men of experience would issue regulations of the kind innocently. The idea is so preposterous as almost to compel one to come to another conclusion.
– Come to the conclusion at once.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think it is time, too.
– If no other honorable member desires to speak, the honorable member for Cook can, I take it, continue by speaking in the second half-hour allowed him.
– The honorable member can speak a second time at once, if no other honorable member desires to speak.
.- I am glad to have an opportunity to continue my remarks, although the Treasurer does not seem very well pleased. However, I have a very unpleasant duty, which must be performed in the public interests.
Sydney Truth, which is by no means a Labour paper, had, in its editorial columns of Sunday last, the following : -
Many western towns arc agog with indignant electors, who have received notices that “ Unless you reply within twenty-one daysof the post hereof,” their names will be struck off the roll of electors (Commonwealth). The discontent is so common that it looks as though on organized attempt of depriving people of their votes was being made. One could understand it if the notices were being posted to people who shift their place of residence; but to be a bird of passage does not seem the requisite for attentionsof the kind reported, Well-known Labour supporters, who are not noted fortheir carefulness in attending to correspondence, are being picked out as target: for the fun (or malice?) of objectors. As under the Cook Government the fine for frivo lous objecting is not enforced, the onus lie! with that discredited band of patriots to prove they have no connexion with this annoying cam paign. Straws show which way the wind bloweth, and this “ objection “ dodge reveals the desperate position of the Joe Cook banc of political boodlers.
Here is another paragraph -
King O’Malley, without the Home Affairs aureole about his brow, is a smaller and more attenuated king than he was last year. . . It is but fair to King, however, to observe that although the Crooks and the Tory yellow press accused him of muddling the rolls and the election, their crowd is shaping a lot worse than he did.
The Sydney Sun dealt with the matter again on the 15 th June -
But the law appears to have been made to confuse people of average intelligence, and there is no certainty that a person having once been enrolled will continue to be bo. If he wishes to circumvent the vagaries of recompilation and remain a qualified elector, he must keep a sharp eye on the lists, otherwise his name may be scored out, or have his occupation or designation altered. . . . The mystifying regulations that have to be complied with at the local Electoral Registrar’s office, the cards that have to be filled in, and other requirements, are likely to scare timid people away. . . . Some confusion exists in the public mind as to the steps being taken by the police. What is being done is that the police are collecting the State roll, and by arrangement with the Commonwealth Electoral authorities are also reviewing the Federal roll.
This shows the muddle and confusion caused by the manner in which the Government are conducting the electoral business.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 745 p.m.
– We have reached a stage in connexion with Supply which ought, I think, to make any one somewhat diffident in dealing with any question other than that which is immediately before the representatives of the people. Personally, I am somewhat surprised at the situation in this Parliament. The Government desire Supply for three months, during which time they may consult the electors and get their affirmation of the stand taken by Ministers, or otherwise. If my vote might be cast in any direction, it would be in a direction to thwart the Government in their endeavour, because I still think that their course of action is not one which is conducive to the interests of the majority of the people of Australia. I am well aware that the Government represent a section of the community who are desirous, by hook or by crook, to defeat the efforts of those who I may say, pardonably I think, prefer more democratic methods of transacting the affairs of the country. While I have to admit that, perhaps, they are justified according to their lights in taking the stand they have taken, I am one of those who believe that we have not exhausted the means by which we might have been able to conduct the business of the Commonwealth in the interests of the greater proportion of the people. Therefore, I am one of those who would endeavour to prevent the Government from consummating their desire to appeal to the people until they had divulged to the House, or the country, that information which is desirable and necessary in the interests of good administration. I, as an individual, rightly or wrongly, cannot believe that the political situation is one in which a double dissolution is desirable or constitutional. I may not have the ability to present the constitutional aspect of the question in such a manner as to prove my contention. I recognise that we have arrived at a stage where a legal mind is necessary to prove that the situation is such as ought not to exist, and, if I might be permitted to refer to another place, of which we are not supposed to have any cognisance, I would say that there is an institution associated with this House which I individually thought had a certain standing under the Constitution. Seeing that the other place is elected on the same franchise as we are, to a degree, at any rate, I have always felt that it had powers almost parallel with our own. That such is not the case has come as a revelation to me. Although I nave always maintained that the powers which I thought the other place possessed were undemocratic, still I have recognised that it was there under the Constitution. As an individual who never expects to get his own way, or as an individual who belongs to a party who, while they desire to assert themselves strongly with the view of getting their wishes carried out, still recognise that there are constitutional methods which have to be resorted to to attain their end, and that .if the Constitution is read in a certain direction they cannot succeed, I have to admit that the Constitution has been interpreted by the Governor-General and the Ministry in such a direction as to make this House paramount to the other place. I am rather fearful that it may not be accepted as a precedent, and that, in the future, an opposite decision may be given by the Governor-General of the day. When I present a case to the House through you, sir, or when I present a case to a judge, or, may I say, with all due respect, to the Governor-General, and I am told on the first occasion, “ You see you have to conform to the letter of the law, or of the Constitution,” and, recognising as a well-intending citizen that the Constitution is an instrument from which we ought not to depart, I accept that decision, that the letter of the law, or of the
Constitution, must be followed, come what may; and, when on another occasion I find that the letter of the law, or of the Constitution, is in my favour, and I present to the powers that be a case for a ruling that would suit me, and they say bo me, “ Do you not see that the spirit of the law, or of the Constitution, has to be obeyed, and carried into effect,” it appears to me it would be an unfair method of dealing with any man or any set of men. If it were possible to combine the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, I should accept the present position, but when they are separated, and the effect of separating them is to thwart my desire, I am brought into conflict with those in authority, who are responsible for the separation, and I am prepared to fight against that kind of thing as effectively as I can. I trust that I am not infringing the rules of this House in saying what 1 have to say on this subject. We are informed that in deciding to grant a double dissolution because another place would not agree with the decision of this House, the Governor-General abided by the Constitution. Yet, when a further request is made to him to do what is desired by another place, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, he says, “ In this case, neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution has anything to do with the matter. My advisers say that I should not follow either the spirit or the letter of the Constitution in this case, and that is enough for me.” If that is to be the “be-all” and “end-all” of requests from this Parliament, it seems to me, as a layman, that the situation is a most remarkable one. I frankly confess that I do not understand it, and I believe the great body of the people will understand it as little as I do. As a lawabiding community, no doubt, our people will try to make the best of the situation, rather than resort to unconstitutional methods to deal with it. I have, in common with the rest of the people, to accept the decision of the powers that be, with all the weight of authority behind them, but I enter my protest against it. I have no legal knowledge or training, and claim only the ordinary common sense of a layman.
– Which is a great deal better than much of their law.
– I have heard that it is possible to get a great deal of law and very little justice, and that the ap plication of common sense to legal questions would give us more justice than does the application of law to those questions. A few years ago I listened with great interest to a lawyer presenting, a case to Court and jury in one of the Melbourne Courts. He tried to assure the jury that it did not matter what the law upon a certain point was, the justice of it was so-and-so. He was immediately pulled up by the learned Judge occupying the Bench, who castigated him for attempting to suggest that in that Court anything but the legal aspect of a question should be considered by either Court or jury I felt that the lawyer in that case, though he may have been a bad lawyer, was endeavouring to secure justice for those he represented. He was beaten, and on these particular questions I am beaten, and I must abide by the decision. So far as the crisis is concerned, I intend to let the matter drop with these remarks. I am positive that in presenting their case for a double dissolution to the Governor-General, the Government of the day presented something which was not in accordance with the fact, so far as the situation in this House is concerned.
– The honorable member knows that that is not so.
– I believe it is so. I am fortified in that view by the fact that the Government will not, by hook or by crook, allow the members of this House and the people of Australia to know what they really told the GovernorGeneral in applying to him for a double dissolution. When a man is “ oyster “ upon any question in which he, you, and the country are interested, it is natural that you should become suspicious, and conclude, either that he is very foolish, or that he desires to keep back the real state of the case. I know the constitution of the other side. They are a party of men strong in their own opinions. The members of the Government have great political knowledge. I am satisfied that there is no kind of political engineering with which they are not conversant. I never belittle my opponents. I recognise when they beat me or my party that there must be strong men amongst them. I know that there are strong men in the Government, and I say that, if they presented a case to the Governor-General to support their request for a double dissolution which would bear the light of day, they would not refuse to give this
House and the country the reasons they put forward. Honorable members in another place, in a constitutional way, by a prayer, and not a demand, asked the Governor-General, in language to which no one could object, to let them have the full text of the memorandum presented to him by Ministers in support of their request for a double dissolution, and a full statement of what Ministers said in their conversations with him on the subject. In a courteous manner, His Excellency has replied, “ My advisers tell me that it is not advisable to give the reasons.” In the circumstances, I and others believe that something was told the Governor-General which the people should know. A man may get upon the house-top and shout his opinions, and may be laughed at. He may secure the appreciation of others who, in the opinion of those who disagree with him, are as foolish as himself, but we know that where there is nothing to conceal everything should be made public. It is in the interests of the people of Australia that all that transpired in connexion with this matter should be made public. Honorable senators in another place asked for the reasons which were submitted by the Government in support of their request for a double dissolution, and they asked also that the proposed Bills for the amendment of the Constitution should be submitted by referendum to the people, in view of the fact that the constitutional provisions governing such a matter had been complied with. If, from a constitutional stand-point, it was correct to give a double dissolution, it should have been just as correct to present the referenda to the people at the coming election, because, in that respect, the provisions of the Constitution have been fulfilled just as equally as in the other case. I cannot deal more fully with that aspect of the quest;on in the short time at my disposal. I wish to deal with other matters, and, firstly, with the question of defence, which I approach from no party stand-point. The question of defence has been, and should be, removed from party politics. It was removed from party politics when the Labour Government submitted their Bill, which is now th» Defence Act of the Commonwealth. At that time there were many among the Labour supporters, and many who sat in Opposition, who did not agree with much contained in the Bill, and on several occasions when dealing with cardinal questions, the Government of the day might have been exercised to maintain their position. This declining Government that is now in power might have done much iu regard to Defence that would have been beneficial to Australia. We are spending too much money on our defence, particularly on our military forces. 1 would not care so much if it gave a fair return to the people, but I have evidence to show that money that might be spent with greater benefit is being wasted. If we had followed line by line and step by step the methods adopted in Great Britain, there would not have been such a great expenditure, although our defence might have been strengthened instead of weakened, and I admit that our huge expenditure is caused by our having adopted so much that is of an experimental character. I do not blame the political head, whether he is a member of this or any other Government, but I maintain that money is wasted by our practical, or theoretical, officials. We are spending hundreds of thousands on war material that could very well be manufactured in Australia. The Inspector of Ordnance has on more than one occasion signed a minute to the effect that certain articles could be manufactured in Australia, many of them quite as cheaply as they could be imported, and most of them at a cost very little in excess of the imported article. Let us get away altogether from the question of Protection or Free Trade, or the question of foreign interests as against local interests. If we wish to be a self-contained people, as far as defence is concerned, we shall not attain that end until the whole of our ordnance and armaments are turned out by Australian workmen in industrial establishments in Australia. It is essential that a country, to be self-contained, should manufacture everything that is required in the matter of war material, because a home supply is always better than having to purchase from overseas. I have no idea of embarrassing the present head of the Defence Department, but I must deal with this matter now that we are going to the country, and the Lord knows what may take place. Just as the Labour Government were leaving office, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers presented a case to them, as it was also presented to the present Government last year, and again* this year, and though they showed conclusively that certain war materiel could be manufactured in Australia, there has been no reply from Ministers. In fairness to the present Government, I cannot blame the Minister of Defence, because I know that exactly the same position obtained during the regime of the Labour Government, but I do blame the officials in the Defence Department, because they have not shown any desire to make Australia selfcontained in regard to the manufacture of these articles. They did attempt to manufacture certain gun mountings at Cockatoo Island, under the management of the late manager of the dock, but the present manager, Mr. King Salter, has already said that he was brought to Australia to build ships and not armaments, that the whole of his life had been spent in the Motherland on the construction of ships, and that Cockatoo Island was not suitable for the construction of armaments, as shown by the fact that what had already been turned out was not up to sample, and had been thrown on the scrap heap. If it is not possible to manufacture these large accessories to ordnance at Cockatoo Island, there is no reason why we should not establish an arsenal in Australia at some other place. It would cost very little, comparing it with the cost of some of the huge establishments in the Old World, and should be able to produce a fair quantity of the accessories that are required. Though the gun mountings made at Cockatoo Island were a failure, I am sure there are many manufacturing establishments in the Commonwealth that could manufacture them, but even if that be not so, any Government desirous that Australia should be self-contained in this respect, and that the Australian Navy should be built and equipped by the Australian people, should bring about some establishment for this purpose. However, nothing has been attempted, though it is so desirable a thing to be done. 1 spoke on this matter two years ago while another Government was in power, and I shall continue to speak upon it in the future whatever Government is in power. Such an establishment would give work to hundreds of men. If the men are not here now, we could increase our population by bringing them out from Great Britain, and having the work done here instead of having it turned out in the Old Country and brought out by ships. This matter that I mention is one that will have to be seriously considered by whatever Government is in power, and I hope that the present Ministry will, at a very early date, give earnest consideration to the request that the Amalgamated Society of Engineers have put forward.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member can go on for another half hour. He may take his second half hour if no one else wishes to speak now.
– That is so.
– At least a dozen out of the thirty-eight honorable members on the Government side of the House desire, I think, that Australian workmen shall he given a fair share of Australian work.
– I think we all have that desire.
– I do not wish to be cruel, but I should say that quite a dozen members of the Ministerial party favour Australian productions, whilst the remaining twenty-six are inclined to support foreign productions. The big guns in use in days gone by were little more than iron, drain-pipes, and there was not much, mechanism associated with them. And so with the old “ Brown Bess.” The rifle in use to-day, however, is. an intricate piece of mechanism, and its manufacture involves the skilled work of the trained artisan. Such rifles are now being produced at Lithgow. The big guns of to-day are far more extraordinary pieces of mechanism, the machinery used to elevate or to depress them working with clock-like precision, and a great deal of that mechanism could, and should, be manufactured in Australia. We import motor cars and sewing machines, but many of the parts are manufactured locally, and even if we cannot at present make these big guns, we ought to be able to produce in Australia many of the parts associated with them. I am satisfied that we have here men who are capable of producing them. There are to be found in the Defence Department memoranda proving that these parts’ can be manufactured here in many cases for less than it costs to import them, and
I hope that the Government will give this phase of the question their very serious consideration. Just as I think that Australian workmen should he employed, to produce the material that we require in connexion with the Army and Navy, so I believe that Australians should be given an opportunity to fill positions on the Instructional Staffs of the Naval and Military Forces.
– Who has ever denied an Australian that right?
– I have never heard the- honorable member advocating Australian interests very strongly.
– Does the honorable member mean that I have never advocated the interests of the capitalist as he has done, but that I advocate the interests of the workers ?.
– The honorable member will, have his little joke. I hold that an Australian should have the right to obtain employment here.
– And having earned his sovereign, the right to spend it wherever he please.
– That is all very well. But just as a man will not be allowed to do whatever he pleases with his own house, so there may come a time when it may be considered wise not to allow a man to spend his money as he chooses. If the honorable member wished to set fire to his house, the law would prevent him.
– Not at all. It would, simply prevent him from claiming the insurance money.
– In setting fire to his own house the honorable member might endanger the property of his neighbour, and, therefore, it would be an offence at law for him to do anything of the kind. We have in Australia young men who have made themselves just as efficient and as capable as is any imported man for positions on the Instructional Staffs of the Naval, and Military services, but they are not given an opportunity to secure -such appointments.
– Nonsense! The Australian is wanted if he can do the work.
– I may be told that the ex-Minister of Defence, whose Government I supported, passed the regulations of which I complain. But I care not by whom the regulations in. question were framed. It is somewhat singular that no matter what ‘Government- is in power the Minister of the day is induced to bring in regulations which are. not in the interests of the people, but are. really the creation of officials. That is the position in this case. Regulations have been framed which make it almost impossible for an Australian to obtain a position on the Instructional Staffs unless he has been to the Old Country, and has served in the Imperial Army or Navy.
– It is only fair to say there has not been time to train the men here.
– I do not wish to belittle the stock from which I spring, but in every walk of life the Australian has shown capabilities just as great as those men from the Old Country. We have young men in Australia to-day who have been trained by the best instructors imported from abroad. They are men who are strong physically and mentally, but who, although they have obtained all the instruction that is necessary, are prevented from getting positions as instructors in the Forces by a silly Act, and more silly regulations. The Government could very well have attended to this matter instead of creating the ridiculous position that exists to-day in regard to the double dissolution. I hope this matter will be given consideration to by the present Government, if they have the good luck to come back to the Ministerial bench - bad. luck to them, if they do - so that the young Australians may have a chance of obtaining these positions. There is another matter I should like to deal with. We have endeavoured, to bring our Naval and Military establishments up to date, and there is in my electorate, associated with the Navy, a Department, the sole interest of which is the maintenance and upkeep of wireless telegraphy. In the Old Country, and I believe also in Germany and France, the wireless telegraphy in connexion with the Navy is associated with the Torpedo Department, where the artificers are employed. The Australian Naval Board, perhaps with a commendable, idea of bringing the system more uptodate,, have established a separate Department for wireless telegraphy. For some years the construction of a wireless station at the naval yard at. Williamstown has been in progress. The plant has cost an enormous amount of ‘money; I do not know whether we can get the actual amount, but I know that a part of the plant has been taken down and reconstructed, and that certain material which was manufactured for it had to be ‘sent back to the manufacturers.
– I have nothing to do with. that.
– I know that. If this wireless system were as good as the wireless system connected with the Postal Department I would be satisfied. It is because it is not so good that I take exception to it. This plant has been constructed evidently by men who know nothing about wireless telegraphy, and to-day is manned by officers who, by no stretch of imagination, can be said to have had any experience or knowledge of either construction or of the transmission and receipt of messages.
– Surely that is not so. That statement is a bit strong.
– Perhaps it is, coming from a layman who admits that he knows nothing about the system.
– That work was put in hand under the Labour Government.
– So far as I am concerned it matters not under which Government the work was started, but if the present Government perpetuate something that is wrong, they must take their share of responsibility. So far as I can ascertain, there are four officials associated with this wireless establishment. The officer in command receives about £450 per annum - I do not know where he got his wireless knowledge, but he is there - there is another officer who receives £280 ; a third who is paid £150 ; and a fourth receiving about £145. So far as I can make out, the only man who knows anything about wireless telegraphy is the man receiving £150 per year.
– That is always the case. The man who knows least gets the most money.
– It is the same with members of Parliament.
– The honorable member for Henty has struck the nail on the head. The officers who control this establishment may be the best intentioned men on earth, and they may be very desirable as officers, but they know nothing about wireless telegraphy. I may be answered that those men were appointed during the reign of the Labour Government, but that does not matter a hit. I am told that the only man who knows anything about wireless telegraphy is the man receiving £150, and his Department will not give him an opportunity of getting a better position, nor is he allowed to leave the Department. I believe the Postmaster-General’s Department would like to get hold of that man, but they cannot get him, because the men who receive the good salaries, knowing nothing about their work, will not part with the services of the man on the lower salary, who doesknow something about it. The Defence Department is full of those anomalies, and the Minister in charge ought to see that they are not perpetuated. I charge the officers of that wireless telegraphy Department with knowing nothing about their work, and with loafing on the brains of the man who does know something about it.
– J would like to meet that man.
– I have never met him, but he spent fourteen years in the British Navy; he was brought out here, and he now desires to get into the Postal Department, but is not allowed to leave the service he is now in. In halfadozen cases in the Defence Department, men who possess special knowledge receive very small salaries, while men who know little receive large salaries. It is for the Government to prevent this, or to take the blame for perpetuating it. Ministers, by the memorandum which they presented to the Governor-General, which induced him to grant a double dissolution, have fashioned an engine which should recoil upon the Conservative party with the force of a blow from a steamhammer, and should prevent for ever the rule of Conservatism in Australia. Although the Governor-General gave- his decision on this occasion on the advice of his Ministers, we have no assurance that his action will be taken as a precedent and followed by succeeding GovernorsGeneral. If it was to form a precedent, we should have nothing to cry out about ; it is the fact that on this occasion, when it suits Conservatism, such advice has been followed, that we lament. I am sure that the members of this Government and the Governor-General will be sorry in the future for the position which they have created.
.- This afternoon I expressed surprise that the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Affairs have agreed to recognise the principle of freehold in connexion with the land in the Northern Territory. The Prime Minister stated in New South Wales that alienation of the land has been the greatest curse of civilization, and that a generation yet unborn would arise to curse us if we continued to alienate the land. He said that he personally would not agree to the alienation of land, either within or without a municipality. The Minister of External Affairs has written a large number of pamphlets against alienation in freehold and in favour of leasing, and, when a member of the Federal Convention, tried to embody in the Constitution a provision preventing the selling of Federal territory. Theobjection made to his proposal at the time was that the Constitution could not be amended without the consent of the Commonwealth Parliament and of the people, following upon a referendum, and that the land laws of the Commonwealth Treasury should be framed by the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The honorable member refers to the Federal Capital Territory.
– At the time the idea that the Northern Territory would be taken over by the Commonwealth had not occurred to any one; the Convention was dealing only with the Federal Capital Territory, the land of which the Minister of External Affairs wished to prevent the alienation of by constitutional enactment. It is a fair thing to ask why these Ministers have abandoned the leasehold principle. One would almost think that they had been outvoted by a majority in the Caucus of the Liberal party. That may not be so, although of late there have been several Caucuses of the Liberal party in this building. Certainly it is a matter for surprise that these Ministers are now advocating alienation in freehold. It was said of Sir Robert Peel that he betrayed a party to save a nation ; the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Affairs seem to me to have betrayed a nation to serve the exigencies of a party. Some time ago, we heard a great deal about the interference of the Fisher Government with the freedom of the press by compelling the signing of all political articles published in a newspaper between the issue of writs and the holding of an election. The Melbourne Argus has for its motto these words -
I am in the place where I am demandedof conscience to speak the truth, and therefore the truth I speak, impugn it whoso list.
In a leader published under that motto on the 5th June, it is stated that there is no precedent for moving an amendment of censure in the Senate on the motion for an Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, nor indeed for proposing any motion of censure on the Ministry. That leader is not signed.- On the following day, in an article signed by “ Ithuriel,” which I understand to be the pen-name of a Mr. Maling, this statement appears -
Senator Rae proposed an amendment to the motion of the Address-in-Reply, a vote of censure on the Ministry, which was agreed to. There is no precedent for such a course.
Yet those who were members of the first Parliament know that in its very first session Senator Millen in the Senate moved an amendment on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply which was, in effect, a motion of censure. That amendment was in these terms -
That the proposed address he amended by the addition of the following words : - “ But, while fully concurring in the proposal for the gradual reduction and ultimate relinquishment of the kanaka, we are of opinion that the further importation of such labour should be at once prohibited.”
If articles appearing in the press had to be signed, peoplewould not write so recklessly and carelessly as they do. In a leading article in a paper like the Argus appears a statement that for any amendment to be moved to the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech in the Senate is without precedent.
– Of censure.
– Must not an amendment to the Address-in-Reply imply a vote of censure?
– It might.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that if in either House an amendment was moved and carried, it would not constitute a vote of censure on the Government?
– In this House it would.
– And would it not in the Senate?
– I do not know.
– There is the fact that in the first session of the first Parliament
Senator Millen was the first honorable senator to move an amendment to the Address-in-Reply. I was rather surprised last week to hear the reply given by the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Minister of External Affairs, to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, as to whether it was a fact that he (Mr. Glynn) had said that Mr. Ryland, who had been sent to the Northern Territory by the Labour Government, could not be dismissed because lie had been sent there for seven years. The Prime Minister said, “ I am the Minister that was responsible for that statement, and he (Mr. Glynn) made it on the authority of the statement made by the honorable member for Barrier in the House, that Mr. Ryland had been sent there until he was sixty-five years of age.” The statement made by the Prime Minister, and repeated by Liberals at some of their meetings, was that Mr. Ryland had been sent there, and could not be dismissed because he had been appointed for seven years. As a matter of fact, he was sent there in the same way as all other officers on the permanent list under what might be termed the “ Northern Territory of South Australia Ordinance for the regulation of the Public Service.” There are two classes of officials in the Territory - permanent and casual. The permanents were sent there under that Ordinance, which, although it was passed at an Executive meeting on the 15th May, 1913, when we were in office, has, I understand, not yet been proclaimed, because the officers in the Territory have not yet been classified. There are probably not more than 300 officers there on the permanent list, and apparently work is going on in the Territory fairly leisurely. In the Ordinance that we passed we provided, “ The permanent head shall furnish the Administrator, in the month of April in each year, with a return of officers in his Department who have attained the age of sixty years or over, together with a report in each case as to whether the officer is able and willing to continue to perform his duties.” Again, “ Every officer having attained the age of sixty years shall be entitled to retire from the Public Service if he desire’s to do so, but, subject to this section, he may continue in the Public Service until he attains the age of sixty-five years. If an officer continues in the Public Service after he has attained the age of sixty years, he may, at any time before he attains the age of sixty-five years, be called upon by the Administrator to retire from the Public Service, and every officer so called upon to retire shall retire accordingly.” We also provided that “ If an officer appears to the Administrator, after full investigation of all the circumstances, to be unfit to discharge, or incapable of discharging the duties of his office efficiently, the Administrator may deal with such officer by retiring him from the Public Service or transferring him to some other position of equal or lower status and salary, provided that where an officer is so retired the Minister may, upon sufficient reason being shown, reinstate the” officer in the Public Service upon such terms and conditions as he thinks fit.” Any officer we sent up could be called upon to retire if the Administrator thought him unfit or incapable at any time, the only person who could put him back being the Minister. In that enactment, there is a provision which is far more elastic, so far as concerns the removing of permanent officers, than there is in the Commonwealth Public Service Act, because any one who has had any dealings with the latter Act knows how difficult it is to remove an officer, even if the permanent head deems him incapable. He has to be sent to a board, and that board - not the permanent head, or the Minister - decides. The Prime Minister has accused us of not telling the truth on all occasions, but he should be about the last person in this country to find fault with anybody who does not tell the truth. On the 28th April last, according to the Age, the honorable member said at St. Kilda, “ There were four highly paid officers in the Northern Territory, and the Government found it could do without them. They were all ‘brothers ‘ (laughter).” If that means anything, it means that we appointed those officers because they were in the same political camp as we were. One of them was Mr. Ryland, who, I admit, was a member of the Labour party before he went to the Territory. The fact that a man belongs to a political party ought not necessarily to be a bar. I do not think the present Government have appointed anybody to a position unless he happened to be a member of their political side. The Minister of Trade and Customs shakes his head, but Mr. Swinburne, who was appointed to the InterState Commission, was a “ brother,” not of the Labour, but of the Liberal party. I do not say he was incompetent, or ought not to have been appointed ‘because he belonged to the Liberal party, but the fact remains that he was a “brother.” Mr. Piddington certainly was never a Labour man. I do not suppose he ever voted for a Labour condidate in his life. He was associated with the Free Trade Liberal party in New South Wales for years - one of their capable men.
– Your Government appointed him to the High Court bench.
– Still, he belongs to the Liberal side. Mr. Deakin has been appointed as a Commissioner to the Panama Canal Exhibition at San Francisco. I am very glad indeed that that position has been offered to Mr. Deakin.
– The honorable member himself would have offered it to him.
– I am very pleased that it has been offered to him, because he is a very able and distinguished son of Australia.
– The position is purely an honorary one.
- Mr. Deakin has made it an honorary one, which, if I may be permitted to say so, was, I think, a little foolish on his part. I am pleased that the appointment was offered to him, and I am more than pleased that he has accepted it. But all these -gentlemen are friends of the Liberal party. We know of no appointment which has been offered to a Labour sympathizer. The birthday honours, too, are all on one side. Mr. Ryland, I admit, belongs to our party. But because of that circumstance it is unfair to say that he was incompetent.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other speaker wishes to interpose at this stage, I may, perhaps, be permitted to continue my remarks. The next appointment to which I desire to refer is that of Mr. Rossi Rossiter He was sent to the Northern Territory to look after secondary education there, and to report to the Government.
– Half of his duty was torun after the little niggers and catch them first.
– It was not. Whether or not it was necessary to appoint him is another matter. But the only inference to be drawn from the Prime Minister’s statement at St. Kilda is that he was appointed because he was a member of our party. When the right honorable .gentleman said that we were all brothers there was loud laughter. In filling the position to which Mr. Rossiter was appointed, we first called for applications. Between thirty and forty of these were received. I referred the applications to Mr. Tate, Mr. Board, and Mr. Williams, the Directors of Education, who reduced the list to ten, and I then asked Mr. Tate to deal with those ten. He, in turn, reduced them totwo, Mr. Rossiter being placed second. I offered the appointment to the person whom he placed first. This gentleman accepted the position, but, on account of ill-health, he was unable to fill it, and subsequently it was given to Mr. Rossiter. It cannot, therefore, be urged that I appointed that gentleman because of his political opinions. After he had been appointed, I noticed that the South Australian Register published one-half or threequarters of a column regarding thisgentleman, in which it regretted his departure from South Australia, because he was a most able and promising officer. I do not know what Mr. Rossiter’s political opinions are. The third gentleman appointed to the Territory was Mr. Clarke, who was in the Department of Home Affairs. I did not know what were his political opinions. We called for applications for a certain position, and undoubtedly he was the best of those whoapplied for it. As a matter of fact, therewere only three or four applicants. The fourth appointment to the Territory wasthat of an officer who had been in the Department for a great many years. He was appointed to look after the aborigines, and he was sixty-five years of age at the time of his appointment. We appointed him for twelve months at the strong request of the Administrator and Professor Spencer, who had been sent tothe Territory specially to deal with the difficult question of the aborigines. Pre- fessor Spencer drew up his report, and we practically accepted his recommendation. He and the Administrator asked that Mr. Stretton, who had been a Customs officer in the Territory for a good many years, and who had reached the retiring age, should be appointed to the position of Director of Aborigines, on account of his intimate knowledge of the aborigines, and because he possessed the confidence of the white people there. Under these circumstances, I consented to his appointment for twelve months. Again, I had not the slightest idea of the nature of his political convictions. As he had been a resident of the Territory so long, I suppose that, as a matter of fact, he had not exercised the franchise for quite a number of years. I do not know what the present Government intend to do in reference to the aborigines. It is a very difficult problem which they have to face. I do not know whether they have appointed anybody to take the place of Mr. Stretton, seeing that the term for which he was appointed has now expired. As a Parliament, we owe a great deal to the aborigines of the Territory, and we ought to be as careful of their interests as we are of the interests of people in any other part of Australia. I have taken this opportunity of replying to the statement of the Prime Minister that these officers were appointed merely because they happened to he brothers. I venture to say that the right honorable gentleman who made that statement should be the very last person in this country to complain of anybody not speaking the truth.
– I feel myself a little handicapped in addressing myself to you, sir, in Committee. But a situation has arisen which calls for my consideration, and I trust the consideration of this Chamber. We have heard a good deal to-day in connexion with electoral reform. We have heard honorable members opposite declare in most emphatic terms that in the electoral situation that has arisen there is nothing lacking. Everything is supposed to be perfect. According to the present Administration, there is no question that demands any consideration. They say that they are perfectly satisfied that the coming election can be conducted on pure and effective lines. I query that statement very much. In my. own electorate I am doing what I can to obtain a purification of the rolls. For some two or three months past I have had my people out, with a view to ascertaining what may eventuate in that connexion, and I have found that in one branch of my electorate - I say “ branch “ because my division embraces many State electorates - that of Balmain, in an investigation covering 3,000 names, no fewer than 900 names of Labour voters are absolutely off the roll. Now, the question arises, “ How can their names be placed upon the roll?” The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have told us that they are doing all they can to secure a clean roll. A fortnight ago I asked the Electoral Officer of New South Wales if he would favour me with 1,500 forms in order to enable me to place my people on the roll, and he told me he could not give meone. He promised, however, that in the course of the day he would send the number I had mentioned, but I have since received a wire from the secretary of the Political Labour League saying that the forms are not forthcoming. Are the Administration fooling, or are they tampering with this matter and seeking in their own way to turn the game against us ? In the most respectful terms I ask, what is the meaning of this? Does it mean inefficiency on the part of the Administration when we are face to face with a great issue. No matter where I turn, I am faced with the fact that the rolls are not as they should be, and that there is impurity somewhere. I do not desire to charge the Government with impurity, but I do charge them with inefficiency. They have “ left undone those things which they ought to have done,” and have “ done those things which they ought not to have done.”
– “ And there is no health “ in them.
– There never was, and never will be; and yet they are plunging this country into a fight in which much injustice will be done. Why this hesitancy on the part of the Government to act in an honorable way ? Why this ardent desire to get to work at once? Is it that they are “‘playing the game “ to suit their own particular interest?
Mr.King O’Malley. - They are darklantern men !
– They are, and they are not prepared to meet us in a fair way, but ready to utilize all the forces that lie in the hands of any Administration to defeat their opponents by devious and objectionable methods. We require some answer from the Prime Minister as to what he is prepared to do in connexion with the cleansing and purification of the rolls; and until we have some assurance that the Government are prepared to meet us fairly and squarely, I trust that honorable members on this side, and my fellows in another place, will “ tie “ them up. The Government are very much afraid of the situation. They taunt us with having a fear, and with not being prepared to enter into a political battle; but in that they make the great mistake of their lives. We are prepared to meet the other side at any time, in any battle, for we feel that the future lies with us, and not with them. We represent a movement which is going to sweep the Government and their supporters into political oblivion. I have been told that a recent utterance of mine has stirred the dove-cot of the Prime Minister and those who think with him, and that all the working men are now behind me in the view I take of the maladministration of the Naval Dockyard in Sydney. The working men have had enough of the present Government, and will surely cast out the Prime Minister and his supporters.I have in my hand a letter which tells me that this is the best thing that could happen for the administration of the dockyard. However, I shall not now say more on that subject, because I may have an opportunity later on. The Government are meeting the country to-day with the declaration that public affairs were maladministered by the Labour Government; and we are prepared to fight on that issue. There is no doubt that the vote in New South Wales will show how far short the Government have fallen in their efforts during the past twelve months. As a matter of fact, the Government have during their termof office made no attempt to do anything, and I shall meet my constituents with the assurance that the Liberals, and those ultra-Conservatives, will never get back to power. As the situation develops, it will be seen that the record of the Government does not stand to their credit, and there is no doubt that the Labour party will be returned to the Treasury bench, from which they will administer the business of the country to the well-being of the people as a whole. At the present time, the Government stand condemned, not only by the House, but by the country. They go with bad grace to the death - who does not? They are afraid of the situation ; we are not. They are going to their death ; we are going to our victory.
– You do not seem to be in a hurry to go.
– No; who is in a hurry? No one. I am sure that the honorable gentleman is not very anxious to go to his death. He does not look for it. He would rather sit where he is, and I am sure that I will miss his smiling presence. I am very glad to see him here sometimes; but still I think he is one of those who are going to death ; I regret it very much, but still, if he has to go, he must. I am going to help in every possible way to send to their death, not alone the honorable member, but the Administration with which he is associated.
.- I ought to say a good deal this evening, but I shall not speak at any very great length. I believe that this Parliament will not last more than two or three weeks, and, therefore, I do not wish to occupy much time to-night. There are one or two matters, sir, which I desire to bring under your notice. One of them is a prayer suggested by Mr. E. Wilson Dobbs to be said or sung during the coming elections. I think that the prayer might well find a place in Hansard -
To THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS.
Sir, - Reading this afternoon J. G. Holland’s “Complete Poetical Works” (published in 1870), it occurred to me that a short poem by that American journalist and writer (1819-1881), entitled “Wanted,” would be a good text for the present campaign. I therefore append it. - Yours, &c,
God give us men! A time like this demands Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands; Men whom the lust of office does not kill; Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; Men who possess opinions and a will; Men who have honour - men who will not lie: Men who can stand before a demagogue, And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking !
Tall nien, sun-crowned, who live above thu fog in public duty, and in private thinking. For, while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions, and their little deeds, Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps, Wrong rules the land, and waiting Justice sleeps !
Mr. E. Wilson Dobbs is very well known in Victoria. He is a man of considerable educational attainments, I hear, and that he should at this juncture deem it necessary to write to the Melbourne Argus - which I have described before as a journal that is very much appreciated by the society classes in Victoria - and suggest a prayer of this kind, seems to me a little extraordinary. I do not think that the requirements of the present time are that we should pray that God would give us men. I think rather that we should pray that the people should have discernment to elect the men when they offer themselves. I admit it is very difficult when such public saviours offer themselves to select the best of a bad lot. But I would ask the public of Victoria what is the matter with Mr. E. Wilson Dobbs, a gentleman who, as he says himself, spends his Saturday afternoons in reading “Complete Poetical Works,” instead of in a plebeian fashion watching a football match ? Surely he is one of the - Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog.
Is it not very hard on the Liberal party that, just at the present time, when the honorable members for Swan, Flinders, and Parramatta, and others occupy the Treasury bench, that Mr. E. Wilson Dobbs should say it is necessary to pray for-
Men whom the lust of office does not kill; Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy; Men who possess opinions and a will.
And is it not a great refection on the Prime Minister- that Mr. E. Wilson Dobbs should say we ought to pray for - Men who have honour - men who will not lie.
That is a very undeserved reflection on the Prime Minister, but, fortunately, his reputation as “” Truthful Joe “ will not suffer by such a “sly dig” as that. The last portion of the prayer contains an abominable heresy. It says - ……. Lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land, and waiting Justice sleeps.
When the Prime Minister and his party went to the country, their principal planks were “ Freedom, Justice, and Liberty,” and if, after twelve months of their rule Wrong rules the land, and Justice in a state of profound repose, and Freedom is having a weep, surely it is time that the Australian National Labour party were put back on the Treasury bench.
Leaving this prayer to be said or sung by the people who think that it ought to be said or sung, let me say that I am very greatly disappointed at the turn of events in another place, where a message has been received that His Excellency the Governor-General, acting on the advice of his Ministers, has declined to submit the six Constitution Alteration Bills to the people. These Bills proposing amendments of the Constitution should, in the opinion of a majority in another place, be again submitted to the people. Any one who reads the evidence which is being taken at the present time in Victoria about the operations of the Meat Trust must see how necessary it is that the people of this Commonwealth, through their Parliament, should have some control over trusts and combines. We are absolutely powerless at the present time to deal with them effectively. The Americans are now getting a footing in Australia. This may be satisfactory to a number of small cattle-growers and sheep farmers. The cattle men in , Queensland are to-day getting about double the price for their cattle that they received five years ago. They are now receiving from £9 to £10 per head, and that is an excellent thing for them. But if the same thing happens in Australia as has happened in other parts of the world, the time will come when the American Meat Trust, and capitalists in Great Britain and elsewhere, will join together and be in a position to offer the cattle-growers of Australia just what they care to give them.
It is often contended that, since in Australia the State has possession of the railways, the Meat Trust will not have the same power here as they have in America, where the railways are in the hands of private companies. But we have to remember that, at the present time, a few individuals control all the refrigerating space available for sending our meat, fruit, butter, and such products to the markets of the world. All that it will be necessary for the American capitalists to do will be, later on, to secure control of the oversea shipping, and it will then be impossible for any one to compete with them. If we were permitted to send the Bills proposing amendments of the Constitution to the people, I have no doubt that they would give the Commonwealth Parliament power to enter into competition in the business of the trusts, to control them, and to build ships and provide the necessary space for our exports.
I should not like to say that we have not the power at present to build ships. I am inclined to think that the Commonwealth has a good deal more power to spend its money in its own way than some anti-Federalists generally give it credit for. But we should have these Bills placed again before the people.
I do not know that the Labour party should feel extremely angry with His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for accepting the advice of his Ministers in this matter, because the whole tendency of civilization is to control the power of the individual. The whole science of government is in the process of evolution just as humanity itself is evolving. There was a time when we had the absolute monarch, the king with supreme power. In those days, of course, the king used to lead his armies to battle and engage himself in personal combat with the enemy. Sometimes the people got a good king, as in the case, we will say, of Alfred the Great. Sometimes they got a bad king, as in the case of that monarch - I will not say of honoured memory - because, as a matter of fact, Henry VIII. had rather a bad reputation.
– I have a great respect for the marriage-tie myself, and when I read that Henry VIII. had eight wives, I do not think he was up to much. I do not think, as a matter of fact, that he was any good. It was possible for the people to get a good king or a very bad one, and we know that absolute power has a tendency to make a man a tyrant. As First Consul in France, Napoleon was an excellent man, but when he became Emperor he commenced to be tyrannous, and sought his own aggrandisement and the aggrandisement of his family. The tendency of modern timesis to curtail the power of the individual. We have in the Old Country a limited monarchy. Our limited monarch, the King, is supposed to act according to the advice of his Ministers. I presume thatHis Excellency the Governor-General hastaken up that stand at the present time. Personally, I believe that His Excellency might have used his discretion in putting, into force section 128 of the Constitution, having reference to constitutional amendments, without regard to the viewsof his Ministers. The Senate passed theBills for the amendment of the Constitution twice, and this House failed to pass- them, and the Governor-General had it in. his power in the circumstances to refer those Bills to the people. I believe that if he had exercised that power the peoplewould not have complained. He haschosen to accept the advice of his Ministers, and we can only hope, therefore, that his Ministers will meet with proper punishment when they go before the electors: on the 5th September next. We cannot, as a Democracy, blame the GovernorGeneral, because, as I say, the tendency of the times is to take absolute power outof the hands of the individual. We donot want dictators in Australia. We desire that the men who rule over us shall be subject to the will of the electors, and be compelled, as are members of this Parliament, to go before the people every three or six years. In the circumstances,. I prefer to ask the people of Australia to deal with the Right Honorable the Prime Minister and his colleagues for their action in advising the Governor-General not. to send the Bills for amendments of the Constitution before the people. I think it was perfectly monstrous advice for Ministers to give the Governor-General. In view of the fact that our party has 66- members in this Parliament out of a total of 111, and that the 66 wish these Billssent before the people, the minority of 45 have displayed an absolute lack of the spirit of fair play in advising the GovernorGeneral not to remit those proposals to the people.
I wish to know what the Governmentpropose to do with regard to the Tariff. They have told us that they are prepared to maintain the Protectionist policy decided at the 1906 elections. What is that policy? They call.it a Protectionist: policy, but when the Tariff was brought up for consideration the Prime Minister never failed to vote against protective duties. When Sir GeorgeReid was beaten badly at the polls, when he raised the “ Socialist tiger “ cry, a majority of Protectionists was returned, and a Tariff Bill was introduced; but the Prime Minister, and many other Free Traders, voted consistently against any proposal to introduce a protective duty. I take the view that honorable members of the Liberal party are divided in their opinions.
– The Liberal party?
– The Fusion party. Confusion would be a still better title. The honorable member for Dampier has wired to the farmers in Western Australia that he proposes to support a revenue Tariff. That is not a protective Tariff. Other members are Free Traders, and they will not vote for a protective Tariff, and when the Confusion Caucus is held they consistently vote against any attempt on the part of the Minister to introduce a protective Tariff. It is said that the honorable member for Dampier has been unable to get the selection of the Country party. The farmers know too much to vote for a Free Trade or revenue Tariff.
– But it is the farmers’ policy.
– If so, they are poorly educated. If farmers favour Free Trade hey do not understand what is in their Interests. Of what use is it for the farmers to produce agricultural products to be sent abroad, and be subject to the competition of other parts of the world ? Our farmers sell about 80 per cent. of their products in Australia, and to have 300,000 or 400,000 more artisans in the manufacturing centres would provide a far better market for the farmers than having to send their products away. I understand that it is the desire to reach another stage in Supply, and so I conclude, but not with a very good peroration, as it is on a rather prosaic subject. I wish to know if the Postmaster-General will establish an aerogen gas plant in the post-office at Gladstone.
– I would not have spoken but for finding in theGippslander and Mirboo Times a short report of a speech made by the honorable member for Gippsland. This report is as follows -
Mr. Brown asked the speaker about the statement he had made twelve months ago in reference to three millions being spent by the Fisher Government which could not be traced. He would not admit ho had made a mistake. The money had been expended under such headings as contingencies, miscellaneous, petty cash, &c. Mr. King O’Malley and Mr. Webster (two Labour members) had stated in the House that they did not know that such money was spent. Mr. Bennett said he had since traced a lot of the money, and read a long list of items. One item was the loss of ?14,000 on the steamer bought by the Labour Government for trading in the Northern Territory. That was put down under the heading of contingencies. For want of space, we have been compelled to curtail the above report. Mr. Bennett will again visit the town.
It is an extraordinary thing for an intelligent man to make such a charge. Every item of the Fisher Budget was audited by the Commonwealth Auditor-General and passed, and after leaving a surplus of ?2,643,305-
– Do not forget the ?20,000,000 that you received.
– Is it not amazing how all these gentlemen shy in their castors, and come into the ring, and talk about twenty millions? They held the reins of government for many years, but owing to their incompetency and destitution in the matter of financial ability they left the country almost on the verge of bankruptcy. Coming back to the statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland, I must say that it has no foundation in fact. It is as destitute of truth as a frog is of feathers.
– Order ! The attendants will see that order is preserved in the galleries.
– I have no ill-feeling towards the present Government. I am merely sorry for them. When they took over from us the reins of government the finances were in a flourishing condition; but, after squandering nearly every penny on which they could lay their hands, we find them, after thirteen months of office; face to face with a deficit of ?3,100,000. That will be the deficit at the end of the year, if we allow for their several commitments.
– How does the honorable member arrive at his figures as to the deficit of ?3,100,000?
– I gave them last week. Let the honorable member read my speech in Hansard. The honorable member for Balaclava is a Minister with brains, and he is so disgusted with the incompetence of his party that, I believe, he is leaving them. During our three years of office, Australia was prosperous. Every one had money. Business men were selling their goods, land settlement was taking place-
– And Hans Irvine sold his wines.
– And the honorable member for Grampians sold his “ booze.” I do not object to that. If people want his “ stagger juice,” let them twist themselves. As for me, I am an uncompromising teetotaller dipped in the dew and dyed in the wool.
– You do not look it.
– Well, I feel like it. Thirty years have elapsed since I had an intoxicating drink.
– No wonder the honorable member is downhearted.
– I am not. When we left office business was flourishing, but to-day merchants all over the country tell us that business is bad, and that it is hard to collect money. All this is due to the fact that one of the most incompetent Governments that we have ever had in Australia has had possession of the Treasury bench for thirteen months. An awful fate awaits them. They will go down into the night of chaos and darkness.
– The honorable member is not prepared to take up the wager for the charities that I offered him the other night.
– The honorable member is not yet out of the wood. Coming to another matter, I understand that in the Senate to-day the Honorary Minister could not give a definite answer to a question as to whether or not a supplementary roll would be issued. We should have a definite pronouncement on the subject. According to Knibbs, the population of New South Wales last year increased to the extent of nearly 100,000, and yet 116,000 names have been removed from the rolls. The honorable member for Adelaide this afternoon read a circular issued by the Secretary of the Fusion party in South Australia, in which he invited the organizers of the party to send him in “the names of Labour supporters.” Here we have a general conspiracy. The Attorney-General hasbroken the law by allowing these people to send in objections to names on the rolls without lodging a deposit of 5s. in each case.
– It is not the first time that he has broken the law.
– It is not.
– Order ! The honorable member has said that an honorable member has broken the law. He must withdraw that remark.
– I shall de so. The point that I want to make is that the electoral law has not been carried out as it was whilst I had control of the Department.
– If we had done what is now being done, it would have been said that we were guilty of a criminal act.
– Quite so. Although I am said to be a partisan, nobonce did I interfere with the working of the Electoral Act whilst I was in office. It is true that I refused to allow squatters, who were sacking men because they voted against their candidates, to act as presiding officers. When complaints were brought to me on the subject, I quickly stopped them from so acting; but I never once asked the officers to remove any name from the rolls. All that wo want is a. square deal and a fair fight. If we get that, we shall be satisfied.
– We shall beat you.
– No. I think we shall win the honorable member’s seat. .,
– I am sure that youwill not.
– Let the honorable member come to Darwin. While the Labour party were in power you could borrow all the money you wanted for 3£ per cent, at par. What is it to-day 1 We find 4 per cents, at 97 and 98, and even then the underwritershave to take up the greater part of the loans. And this is what is called prosperity !
– Money was 5£ per cen6. before the Labour party left office.
– The honorable member must be speaking of the way in which he lends money in the bush.
– It was 5$ per cent, in the city of Melbourne.
– The honorable member is talking about private loans, whereas I was referring to Government loans.
– He does not know the difference.
– I am sure that he does not.
– The Savings Bank rate of interest is only 4½ per cent.
– The State Savings Banks raised their rate from 4½ to 5 per cent.
– Because the Commonwealth Bank permitted them to do it.
– I am talking about the loans the States could get in Europe. They could borrow all the money they required at 3½ per cent. at par. Now they are paying 4 per cent. and only get £97, which means that they are losing £30,000 in £1,000,000, and on that £30,000 they have to pay 4 per cent. In other words, . they are really discounting at 3£ per cent.
– The New South Wales Government could not get the money at 4 per cent.
– The New South Wales Government can get money at 4 per cent. at £97, just the same as the Victorian Government can, but when the Labour Government were in power they got their money at 3½ per cent. at par.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I am obliged to listen to a succession of speeches from all sides of the House in addition to the one which the honorable member for Darwin is making. I trust that honorable members will not interject, but will enable Hansard to take a correct record of the honorable member’s speech.
– The Labour party recognised all along that in the expansion of the Commonwealth Bank its operations would extend in due time into the country, so that we would have a grand system of rural credit, and enable the farmers of this country to study scientific chemical methods of farming. Compare the Australian farmer’s annual production per acre with the productions in Germany, France, or the State of Wisconsin, and we find that the Australian farmer does not produce half the percentage of crop that is produced in Germany and France. Why? Simply because there is a rude system of cultivation in Australia. With very few exceptions, the Australian farmer has not studied scientific chemical methods of progressive farming. There is great talk when they have to pay a little extra to their working men. What difference do good wages make when farmers are getting big crops? In the State of Kansas we used to raise 80 or 90 bushels of corn to the acre; in Australia the farmers think they are doing well if they are getting 70 bushels.
– Some of them in Australia get 90 bushels.
– I have heard that that average has been obtained, but that the man who got it is dead.
– I have had 110 bushels to the acre off my land.
– I am talking about the average for a whole State. Some of the men in Kansas reaped 150 bushels to the acre; but 1 mentioned 90 as the average for that great prairie State, where the prairie dog rules supreme. Instead of wasting our time on a tin-pot preference to unionists prohibition Bill, the present Government might have ascertained by investigation the causes of the wonderful progress of the agriculture of the German and French farmers, as compared with that of the Australian farmers. The facts are plain and undeniable. Agricultural production is not increasing annually in Australia in proportion to the productive capacity of the people. I will admit at once that the fault does not lie wholly with the Australian producers. Both owners and tenants will compare favorably with the average Australian in intelligence, integrity, industry, and thrift, hut they have always had to struggle against the stupendous organization known as the private banking corporation, which has been backed up by the various State Governments, and which has always discriminated against the farmer and in favour of the financial speculator in stocks, shares, debentures, bonds, and mortgages.
– Has the Commonwealth Bank helped the farmers?
– The Commonwealth Bank is only a baby in its swaddling-clothes yet. It has had no time to do anything.
– It could finance Broken Hill.
– If that corporation is strong and has the security, and is prepared to pay the interest, surely the Commonwealth Bank is out to make a little money.
– The Age says the security is such as no private institution would touch.
– The Age did not make a charge; it is waiting to have the matter investigated. The Age is a great paper, and it is very careful; it does not make many mistakes.
– The Commonwealth Bank will not lend to the farmers at under 6 per cent.
– Order !
– I would urge my honorable friends who interject to remember that one can catch more flies with molasses than with vinegar. Why should not the Commonwealth Bank lend money if the security is good ? Mr. Denison Miller, the Governor of the Bank, is a very careful man ; in fact, he is too cautious. That is the reason why I desire the establishment of a board. I think the responsibility is too much for any one man. When there is a board, the members seat themselves around a table, and one man looks at the question one way, and another man another way, but the general consensus of opinion is nearly always right. That is why I am anxious that the States should be represented on a board of directors, so that we may have one great national system of finance. Coming back to my original proposition, I desire to say that the land and the workers of a nation are its real sources of wealth. Stocks, bonds, shares, debentures, and all manner of transferable and exchangeable securities are merely titles to the ownership of the profits from land and labour. We want to take the farmer out of the hands of the usurer.
– Does Labour always produce profits?
– Unfortunately, not always. But the wealth of the world has been produced by the labour of workers. We are not producers, we are acquirers and accumulators. They produce, and we gather together. We need a system of rural credit in Australia, so that two or three farmers can get together, and one farmer can back another’s promissory note, and can have it rediscounted through the Common wealth Bank at a low rate of interest. Why is it that the speculator in industrial, commercial, financial, and other securities can borrow all the money he requires on call loans at from 2½ to 4 per cent., while the farmer, who produces the food that we live on, has to pay from 6 to 12 per cent. per annum on his overdraft?
– Unfortunately, the Commonwealth Bank will not look at the farmers’ securities just now.
– The Commonwealth Bank is only a baby yet. You must give her time to grow and spread out. This Government should have dealt with these financial problems instead of talking about preference in regard to 600 or 700 persons.
– The honorable member was three years in office.
– We did marvellously to. get the bank going in three years. We got her booming a bit; but it takes a long time to make these great institutions advance. What we need in this country is a system of rural credits, so that if a crop is bad one season the farmer need not take off his hat and come on to the carpet before the banker.
– Was the bank instituted for that reason?
– That was the intention.
– Is there anything in the report that it is advancing money to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company now ?
– If it is advancing money to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, you can rest assured that it has the security. I am prepared to advance money if you will give me proper security. When the great iron industry is full-grown, it will employ thousands of men, and thus make a market for the farmers. What we are trying to do is to get, by means of Protection, a home market for our people. We believe in Protection. After the next election, when a Labour Government are back on the Treasury bench, you will have Protection up to the hilt in the very first session. You will have such a system of Protection that you will know where we start out. We shall not let our friends get the big commitments which they have had since we left office. We will give the initiative and the referendum. No young country can prosper without Protection, which diversifies industries and increases the intelligence of the community, transferring the raw material into the finished product, and putting twenty or thirty values on it in the process. I say to honorable members opposite: Take warning; the handwriting is on the wall; Belshazzar’s castle is coming down; Nebuchadnezzar is going out to eat grass for twenty years. The wicked shall not prosper. Never was anything truer than the old sacred Word. God said, “The wicked shall not prosper,” and they have not. For thirteen months they have sat on the Treasury bench, and have swallowed up Fisher’s surplus, so that now there is nothing left. Let them have a good time, it is nearly over. In the Sabbath schools of Canada I was taught that when sitting at the bedside of the dying, one should never call attention to the crimes which he had committed.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A more pitiful exhibition of physical and mental depression I have never seen in any Parliament than that now given by honorable members opposite. The Labour party was full of dash and daring when an appeal to the country was first spoken about, but it is a depressed and melancholy body now that that appeal is about to be made. Judging by the utterances of its members this evening, it was never in a worse mental state than that in which it finds itself now. The honorable member for Darwin says that his party favours the initiative and referendum. I do not know if he is aware what that would mean in a great country like Australia. The initiative might bc possible in a municipality, and even in a very small State, although, as Woodrow Wilson has pointed out, no one would dream of proposing it where there is decent representation in a State. To propose the initiative is to admit that Parliament has outlived its usefulness; that its members are corrupt, or so ignorant as to be unable to exercise legislative functions, or so unacquainted with public opinion as to be unable to propose the laws needed by the people. In my opinion, those admissions cannot be maderegarding the Parliament of Australia. According to the right honorable member for Wide Bay, Parliament has outlived’, its usefulness, and, therefore, he may favour the initiative ; but it would requiresomething like 300,000 votes to get a. matter brought forward by means of the initiative, and would the right honorable member suggest that any Parliament would be so wanting in intelligence, and so devoid of information,that it would not know, and give expression to, the opinions of 300,000 electors 1 In the circumstances, for a Parliament even to talk about the initiative and referendum is an admission that its members do not understand the duties they are called upon to perform.
– Are you afraid to trust the people?
– I always understood! that members of Parliament were sent in because the people trusted them to make laws for them. When the people ceased to trust them, I could understand them, perhaps, abolishing Parliament altogether, or taking in hand something of the style which the honorable member suggests, but not till then. It is an admission by the honorable member that he believes Parliament to be such a degraded, ignorant body that it is unable to legislate on behalf of the people. Some of the Labour party may hold that belief, but I entirely disagree with it.
– That is quite incorrect.
– There can be no other reason for bringing forward such a proposal. A measure applicable to a small town or city is surely not applicable to a great combine like this. Who are to bo the people to take these petitions round to be signed? Are they to be bodies of men outside Parliament, and are they to know move about the opinion of the people than men in Parliament? That is what the advocates of this proposal have to admit, and, therefore, to talk about the initiative and referendum as likely to produce any change in the welfare of the people is utterly to misunderstand its nature. After all, the scale of intelligence in Parliament may not be very high, as some people assert, but, in the main, it is a very correct reflex of the general standard of intelligence of the (>eople, and, consequently, the class of legislation that the people desire is, in the main, carried out by their Parliaments for them. It is unfortunate that political economy is not more greatly studied than it is, and that every man is not altogether fitted to take his place in Parliament, but, after all, it is a very good thing that there should be representatives of every shade of opinion. Whether that opinion is well or ill formed, it is highly desirable that the matter should be brought into the Court of common complaints, for that is what our Parliament is, and discussed pro and con. Again, if you were to draw up your Bill, it might have one name and bring about a totally different result from that intended. I suppose Acts have been passed times out of number to accomplish one thing, and have brought about something totally different. In Great Britain alone during the last hundred years some 20,000 Acts have been repealed only after having been found mischievous and unworkable.
– Often repealed in the interests of some person or class.
– Yes. I could give a number of instances of Acts passed by the Labour party themselves. For example, they interfered to repeal the Excise and bounty on Queensland sugar, by that means .abolishing a quarter of a million of revenue.
– Are you interested in the shares?
– I am simply pointing out what the Labour party did. I, for one, never questioned that the Labour party meant in one way to have a shot at some of the various sugar companies throughout Queensland and New South Wales. The result of their action was that in one company alone the shares have risen since the passing of the Act to the extent of £1,500,000. I know honorable members opposite did not intend this, but if a vote had been taken, and the matter had been submitted to the people at the time, it would have been passed, because the Labour party were in favour of it.
– It was their money helped to put you where you are now.
– The honorable member knows that that is a deliberate untruth. If anything was tried to be done, it was this: The Labour party had been able to squeeze the Tobacco Trust and got contributions from them, but they were not able to squeeze the men belonging to the Sugar Company, and they would not pay anything to their funds, so the Labour party brought up a Bill which they thought would apply to them. They appointed a Commission which they thought would kill them, but this Commission remained not to curse, but to bless.
– You know that that is a lie.
– Order! The honorable member has made a grossly disorderly interjection and must withdraw it.
– Under the rules I withdraw it, but I ask you to compel the honorable member to withdraw his statement that contributions were made by the Tobacco Trust to the election funds of this party, or any of its members. That assertion is absolutely without foundation.
– Then the honorable member does not know much about the contributions.
– The remark is offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– A remark of the kind must be personally offensive to an honorable member. I take it that it does not apply to the honorable member. If he regards it as personally offensive, I ask the honorable member for Werriwa to withdraw it.
– I did not say that the honorable member for Cook had benefited, nor was I thinking of the honorable member getting a single penny of it.
– The honorable member will withdraw the remark.
– I have nothing to withdraw.
– You will withdraw it.
– No; I should like to know what I have to withdraw.
– The honorable member for Cook has taken exception to a remark made by the honorable member for Werriwa, to the effect that a certain company supplied money for election purposes in connexion with the candidature of members on the opposite side. That remark will have to be withdrawn.
– I submit not, and for this reason-
– The honorable member will withdraw. There is a re- cognised course to be taken in these cases. The honorable member for Cook has repeated that a remark by the honorable member is offensive to him personally, and it is the custom in the circumstances for the Chairman to ask that the words be withdrawn.
– In the circumstances, as the honorable member considers it personally offensive to him-
– No; generally offensive.
– I would not belong to a party in those circumstances.
– I did not call upon the honorable member for Kennedy to withdraw his remark regarding myself.
– And I do not call upon you to withdraw what you said about me.
– That is so, but the honorable member for Cook was not entitled to consider my remark personally offensive to him, because it was not addressed to him.
– I rise to order. Even if the honorable member withdraws the remark so far as the honorable member for Cook is concerned, I want a withdrawal with reference to myself and also with reference to the whole of my party.
– That is not a point of order. The honorable member for Werriwa will proceed.
– Am I not entitled to take exception to the statement of the honorable member that the Labour party have received funds from the Tobacco Trust for political purposes? As far as I am concerned, I ask that that charge be withdrawn.
– The honorable member cannot make a speech. I have heard his point of order. I am sorry to say that remarks of that kind have been bandied about the Chamber generally during this session. Unless particular exception is taken to them, I cannot take any official cognisance of them.
– Have they been made in reference to this particular matter?
– No; but I heard similar charges made to-night, by way of interjection, while the honorable member for Werriwa was speaking. I preferred, however, to take no notice of them. I trust that honorable members will allow the business of the Committee to proceed in an orderly way.
– I should not have made any statement regarding the contributions of any company or companies, either to one political party or the other, had I not been drawn into it. Personally, I would accept contributions from any company or individual for political purposes, provided that no conditions whatever were attached to the gifts. So far, there has been no case in which conditions have been attached to any benefactions that have been made to the big parties on either side.
– The trusts know who do their dirty work for them, do they not?
– We have to listen to these insinuations day after day, and night after night. We are supposed to take no notice of them when they come from honorable members opposite. But the same individuals become extremely sensitive when a similar method of attack is made upon them. A Bill can be so framed as to accomplish an entirely different purpose from that which its authors intended it to accomplish. I may mention, for instance, one or two Anti-Trust Bills which were framed. One of these measures, instead of being an Anti-Trust Bill, was a Bill which, in my opinion, led to the creation of trusts. Then, again, in connexion with certain parts of the Tariff, some honorable members intended that a benefit should be conferred on the workmen who are employed in particular lines of industry.
– Is not the honorable member’s party solid on that?
– When the honorable member, as Minister of Trade and Customs, sent out his inquiries to manufacturers, I am bound to say that they did him credit. But many honorable members voted for certain portions of the Tariff under the idea that by so doing they would benefit the workers, when, as a matter of fact, they were only benefiting the capitalists who employed those men, and who were not paying them more than the standard rate of wage.
– Some of them were paying a great deal less than the standard rate.
– That is so. The reason is that, when industrial factories are built up in certain lines, those engaged in them are unable to seek service in any other avenue of employment, and thus become absolutely bound to accept the limited wage that is offered to them. The honorable member for Darwin asserted to-night that the Labour party are in favour of providing cheap money to men on the land. Let me tell him that the whole of the taxation that has been imposed by this Parliament falls upon the men on the land. Although honorable members did not intend to do so, they diverted capital from land into industrial pursuits in the city. In addition to causing the withdrawal of capital from its proper lines of development, they built on the idea that the scarcer capital was made the better it would be for the poor man.
– Who said that?
– I am merely showing what the Labour party did. Of course, they did not intend to do it. But, by their action, they caused the withdrawal from the private banks of £10,000,000, which was earning, in the main, 10 per cent. In addition to that £10,000,000 which was withdrawn from the private banks, the State Labour Governments went on borrowing until they had exhausted the local market, and thus absorbed practically another £20,000,000. That made a total of £30,000,000. As a consequence of that money being invested in works which are not paying interest at the present time, and which, perhaps, for four or five years, will not do so, we have something like £30,000,000 which is returning only 3 per cent., or £900,000 annually instead of £3,000,000, which it would have been returning had it remained in private hands. Thus they have raised the rate of interest to every borrower in the community. The very men who talk so much against the capitalist have really benefited him tremendously. Is it any wonder that the sensible section of the workers have realized this, and have determined that there must be an end to this kind of thing? What the genuine worker wants is capital. It is the want of capital which keeps him down.
– We all want capital.
– Honorable members opposite run about the country exclaiming that capital keeps them down, although in the next breath they admit that it is the want of capital. Can there be a greater state of mental confusion than that exhibited by honorable members opposite, who are unable to understand that it is the want of capital which keepsa community back? The Labour party, by their action, have undoubtedly raised the rate of interest. They have also attempted, by -means of a heavy land tax,, to divert capital from land. They have not .allowed anything to the unfortunate man who has to borrow money on hisland; and, if we.are not careful, they will prevent any small man raising a loan upon his land from a private company. What will be the result? The result will be the aggregation of still largerestates than exist at the present time. In New South Wales the Labour Government have introduced a super-tax, which they describe as something new; but, asa matter of fact, a similar tax was introduced as far back as 367 b.c. This fact shows that the Labour party are the Tory party, who always live in the past, and cannot learn to live in the present and the future. All their legislation is of the musty, fusty, rusty past. In 367 b.c., under the super-tax, a man was not allowed to own more than 300 acres or 100 head of cattle; and the Labour party follows on the same linesnow, although the inevitable result is the greater aggregation of estates. In Gaul in the fourth century, land taxes caused men to leave the land in such numbersthat whole districts were deserted, untiltoo late it was discovered that taxation had killed the “ goose that laid the golden egg.” When honorable members opposite launch out against the big man they hit the small man infinitely harder than they do the object of their legislation. In Syria and Egypt, where land taxation was carried to extremes, whole districts were desolated; and only 120 years ago in France, as Arthur Young relates, whole provinces, in some cases, were thrown out of cultivation owing to it being impossible to secure advances on land. The same thing is operating in Western Australia to-day, where financial companies will not make advances because of the utterances of a Labour Minister about the conversion of titles and freeholds.
– What is the reason?
– Because it is proposed to confiscate the titles of land. The Labour party do not understand the injury they may do to the country, and they will find out the truth too late. A few months ago I quoted from the Rig Vedas, showing that in India they had learned the lesson, and that one of the old kings there was advised to take care not to oppress the tillers of the soil by heavy taxation, so as to drive them away, because they could not be regained. I mention these things because honorable members opposite seem to be absolutely blind to the teachings of history; and, if they had their way, they would land this country in ruin.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Sir William Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- As we are on the eve of an appeal to the country, it is important that there should be placed on record the ineptitude, inefficiency, and bungling of this Government in every Department under their control. There are seven Departments administered by the various captains of this Government, namely :
The Treasury :
The Attorney-General’s Department:
The Department of External Affairs:
Home Affairs Department :
Postmaster-General’s Department :
The Treasury :
The Treasury is administered by the right honorable member for Swan. When the Labour Government took office in 1910, there was a deficit of £450,000 left by the Fusion Government. When the Labour Government left office, after three years’ control of the finances, a cash surplus of £2,643,305 was left in the Treasury. The Cook-Irvine Government took office in June, 1913, and they now admit that they will have a surplus of only £824,305 at the end of the current month.
These statements are undisputed, but I want to place on record some criticisms of the bungling of the Government in every Department from their own supporters. The case has been so undeniable, the facts have been crying so loudly, that even the great Liberal newspapers have been called upon to testify to the chaos that exists in the whole of the Departments :
Referring to the question of finance, the Melbourne Age, which is not a Labour newspaper by any means, in a leading article on the 12th inst., said -
It will be remembered that in his Budget Speech last October the Treasurer estimated the revenue of the current financial year at £21,462,000, and the gross expenditure at £27,246,747, leaving a deficit of £5,784,747, to be provided for partly out of new loan funds and partly from the accumulated surplus, of £2,643,305, inherited from the Fisher Administration.
Further on it said -
It is clear, at any rate, that in regard to defence, the Government has not kept its pledges to the people. We were promised a sensible alleviation in our overwhelming burden of military defence, and it seems we are to be fobbed off with a paltry sop of £160,000 on our naval and military establishments combined. Sir John Forrest plumes himself on having effected “ considerable savings “ in other departments, but he refrained from indicating their nature or extent in more specific terms. His revised estimates for the year are as follow : -
The above estimate of expenditure refers, of course, exclusively to expenditure out of revenue; and it will be seen that the Treasurer treats the accumulated surplus left by the Fisher Government as an ordinary item of revenue. It should be needless to remark that Sir John Forrest has not a tittle of justification for this procedure. The accumulated Fisher surplus of £2,643,305 was, no doubt, earned out of the superabundant revenue of past years, but, once having been earned and ear-marked as surplus, it became capital money belonging to the people.
So the stinging testimony to the finan-. cial incompetency of the Government proceeds. It is shown further in this article that the Government have been juggling with the finances, and it is pointed out that the position in this Department is most precarious. Yet the Government have done nothing, and are doing nothing, to remedy the position.
There are two items to which special attention should be directed -
The High Commissioner’s Office;
In the High Commissioner’s Office it appears that we are to provide for the High Commissioner in a most abundant style. From 1908-9 to 1913-14, a period of five years, there has been a tremendous increase in the cost of the administration of pur office in London. It has mounted from £3,650, in the former year, to an estimated expenditure of £21,461 for the present year.
The expenditure which has been incurred in connexion with the building in London will total about £655,000, involving an annual outlay of £43,000 for interest and maintenance.
Putting the administration down at about £30,000 a year, we have a total sum of £73,000 a year to provide for the upkeep of our office in London. lt must be remembered that, added to this, we have the expenditure of the States through their Agents-General. Between 1905. and 1913, the aggregate expenditure of the six State agencies increased from £22,181 to £35,750 a year.
When the new Commonwealth buildings are in full operation, the annual cost of [Australia’s representation in Great Britain will amount to something like the following -
In dealing with this matter, the Melbourne Age, a Liberal newspaper of the date before mentioned, passes this cornmeet -
Te spend huge sums on ornamental buildings for the improvement of British architecture, or t) enable the High Commissioner and the Agents-General to cut a dash in the entertain ment of globe-trotters, touring Australians, and English celebrities is an application of public fundi to a superfluous and unworthy object.
The article concludes with this remark -
It is well, however, that the taxpayer should realize se how he is being bled, and the use to which his money is being put by the custodians of the public purse. Nor is that all. With such lavish expenditure afoot, fresh taxation is inevitable. ifr. J. B. Catts.
Defence: The expenditure in the Defence Department is appalling. In 1912-13 there was a total expenditure of £4,331,498, while in 1913-14 the total expenditure is estimated to be £5,746,853. The Victorian, a Liberal newspaper published in this State, in its issue of the 13th June of this year, says -
Lord Kitchener estimated that when in full working order, in 1920, our military forces would cost us £1,888,000. This year we are spending £3,315,435 on land forces alone, and conservative estimates place the cost in 1920 at £5,000,000, assuming that rigid economy is exercised. No country in the world, crushed as many of them are beneath the burden of armaments, pays as much as 25s. per head for land forces only. Australia will quickly have to decide whether she is able to afford this huge annual sum for her citizen army.
There is huge expenditure going on at the top of the tree in the Defence Department. Inspector-General Kirkpatrick was employed at a salary of £1,500 per year. His place is being taken by InspectorGeneral Bridges at a salary of £1,500 a year. But it must be remembered that Inspector-General Kirkpatrick left his home in England to take up duty on a practically foreign station. He was to all intents and purposes working away from his home, and provision had to be made to pay him accordingly.
– And he got more than £1,500 per year.
– I am guided by the official records, and if InspectorGeneral Kirkpatrick received something more in the way of perquisites or contingencies that has not been shown up to the present, we should know all about it. Inspector-General Bridges, who has been appointed to the position, is a local officer, and is being paid at the same rate of salary, as a beginning, as the InspectorGeneral who was imported from Great Britain.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that an Australian officer is not worth as much as an imported officer?
– No. I am showing some of the ways which the present Government have of getting rid of the money intrusted to them.
The late Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier-General Gordon, was employed at £1,200 a year. The present Chief of the General Staff, Colonel Legge, who was previously paid at £900 a year, has been promoted to the position of Chief of the
General Staff at a salary from the commencement of his occupancy of the position of £300 per year more than the previous experienced officer was paid at practically the end of his career.
In connexion with the position of the Admiral of the Navy, it was recommended by Admiral King-Hall, on his retirement, that he should be paid on the basis of a salary, and should not have an extensive Admiralty House kept up, which would be nothing but a place for the entertainment of some of the wealthy people of the States, and particularly of Sydney.
– A place for tango dances.
– Instead of that idea being carried out in the case of Admiral Patey, we find that he is now provided with a palatial residence in Sydney, and if we are to have such arrangements made for the Admiral we shall find that when he ought to be around the coast with his war-ships there will be great tango functions going on at Admiralty House, such as the honorable member for Darwin suggests.
– And a large number of bluejackets will be kept there as servants for the Admiral.
– I understand that the place is swarming with bluejackets. There are bluejackets to wash up the dishes, bluejackets to scrub the floors, and to hand people off and on to the boats. This is one of the ways in which the Government are managing to get rid of the money placed in their custody for economical expenditure.
I understand that) the Government desire that we should adjourn at this hour, and, that being so, I ask leave to continue my remarks.
– The Government can have the Bill by 1 o’clock to-morrow.
– But then there is the Works Bill to come on.
– The Supply Bill can be sent on to the Senate, and the Works Bill come on for consideration after that.
– When will honorable members opposite give us the Works Bill?
– As soon as possible.
– What does “ as soon as possible “ mean ?
– It will not be delayed. There is no intention to delay it. The
Prime Minister need not worry on that point.
– Will honorable members opposite give us the Bill tomorrow night?
– Yes, or before the sitting of the Senate on the following day.
– All right. ‘
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he is yet in a position to say when the new rolls will be available, what interval there will be between the publication of the new rolls and the issue of the writs, and whether he is able to state definitely the date of the elections.
– I am still adhering, as far as possible, to the 5th September as the date of the elections. Beyond that, nothing is fixed, and nothing can be fixed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140624_reps_5_74/>.